“What IF?” Makes Me Smile a Little Bit.

Many years ago, we were staying at a beach condo we had rented on the Monterey dunes. It must have been Spring Break 2008, because Brittany was in 4th grade and we were there so that she could study her California Mission of choice, San Juan Bautista (or as we kept calling it San Juan the pizza).

While we were staying there I became very fascinated (okay, more like obsessed) with the family that once called this place “their vacation home.” Going up the stairs were literally hundreds of photographs in a collage style showing, sectioned by year, going back to what looked like the early 1970’s.  As I walked up the stairs I could see the people getting older, people vanishing from the pictures, then more people joining the gathering of friends and family.  I saw Christmas times, thanksgivings, spring breaks, etc. Toward the end years, I saw the person that started out as the young mom of the family in a wheelchair with her family gathered around her.

I was able to pick out (or so I thought) this woman’s best years.  I showed my family.  I am sure I drove them nuts.  I just kept saying, “Look, these were this family’s best years” while pointing to somewhere in the middle. The years of happy faces, large gatherings, and many age groups.  Then, (if you know me you know how I am) I started getting all sentimental.  I began thinking and voicing (of course), “What if these are the best days of our lives?”  This is about the time I went out and took some amazing photos of my kids flying kites on the dunes.

That condo has stuck in my mind ever since.  When I look back at my life, I can pick out my “best years.”  My family was complete in 2000.  We had Tommy, Katrina was starting kindergarten, Brittany was a year and half, we moved to Red Bluff, our house was finished being built.  It was a great year and just seemed to get better every year.  I had a truly amazing life.  All those years from 2000-2009 were amazing.  Each year the kids got older and able to do more “Botell Family Fun” things.

So, this is where I have been so stuck.  My best years are over.  This has been weighing me down.  It can never be what it once was.  Tommy is gone.  I know he is in Heaven, but that does not make me miss him any less.  It does not make the holidays any easier or any other day for that matter.  I have been struggling so hard with trying to go on when there is nothing in me that wants to.  I have prayed about it and asked God to please help me.  I do not want to be the person I am becoming, a joyless and hopeless mom, wife, and friend.

My prayer was answered, I woke up the other morning to Tom kissing me goodbye, as he does every morning, and in a half asleep state of mind I said, “What if our best days are yet to come?”  I have no idea where that came from but I got up and wrote it on my bathroom mirror.  It flipped a switch in my mind.  What if those were the best days of my life but there are more best days to come?  Yes, I know, more best days is improper grammar, but it is the best way to convey what I mean and as Tommy would say, “Doesn’t matter cuz I like the sound of it” haha. This one little change in my thought process has knocked me right out of the pity party I was having for myself; all of the sudden I felt some joy and hope.

It is Christmas time.  I still have two children here on earth.  I must have joy and hope.  If not for me then for them.  I have to keep on showing them strength, faith, and perseverance.  I miss my son with every ounce of my being that is never going to change.  His days here on earth were my best days, for sure, but what if I have more “best days”…..what if?  Ever since I woke up with the “what if” thought we have had some amazing things happen through other people.  They have brought so much joy to my family.  I am still not “doing” the whole Christmas thing, but in an amazing way, a very kind person has insured the fact that my girls, Tom, and I will have a wonderful Christmas Day.  Joyful things just keep coming too….
I just received a call from our pastor.  He would like my family to light the advent candles this Sunday.  I am honored.  What if?……….





These were THE BEST days. I am hopeful that we may have more “best days” ahead. You never know…what IF?
I Love you Tommy.          Merry Christmas.

12 Responses to ““What IF?” Makes Me Smile a Little Bit.”

  1. Dear Jen,
    I have just read the most beautiful thing with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart.
    I hope you all have some new best days sometime soon.
    Tommy will always be with us no matter how much time goes by.
    I love you all.

  2. botells says:

    Thank You Mum. Love you.

  3. April says:

    Such beautifully written words…they brought tears and hope. Thank you for sharing. I think of your family often and say prayers that God will continue to comfort each of you in special ways.

  4. botells says:

    Man, I miss him so much. Why did this happen to him? It’s not fair.

  5. Grandma Carolyn says:

    Hi Tommy.
    I have not been on your website for quite a while, but just today I decided to follow a link from yesterday’s TV story/video about the new Rusty May scholarship in your memory to Tommy’s Place, and read your Mom’s post from December and Christmas Time.

    Looking at all the photos she posted from our trip to Monterey Dunes for your sister Rosebud’s 4th grade mission project was great, hard, painful, but great regardless. I had such a good time that trip, watching you guys learn to fly the kites we got you for Easter was such fun. Remember how we went swimming in the pool, even though the air was freezing outside? And those icky little bug like things you kept digging up on the beach when the waves went in and out, you really liked those (me, not so much, ewwww) bugs. And the aquarium, you didn’t like sitting under the wave tank with the water swooshing over your head, but you loved those jellyfish!

    Anyway, this weekend is Christmas in February, your Mom & Dad and sisters Kat & Rose, and your uncle Bob & Aunt Monica and baby Sammy G are coming to my house. Oh, hey, your sister Katrina has a boyfriend, he and his family are coming too. We are going to have fun together, but I promise you will be in our hearts and minds every minute, we will have a toast to you at dinner on Saturday, just like we have the past 2 years. (Oh, that made me laugh out loud, I had a vision of how you always said “toast” with a piece of toast at breakfast! And there, now I’m crying, and I have to go to work, new make up application here we come, rats, dude I’ll bet your laughing at me right now.)

    Peace Out Little Diamond,
    Grandma Carolyn

  6. botells says:

    Thinking of you today and everyday.

  7. botells says:

    When we were at Gma Carolyns for Christmas in Feb. Cousin Sammy and I found a piece of paper that you had written your name on. We found it right before we sat down to dinner in a game box. So painful, but I sucked it up and sat through dinner…thinking of you. Uhg…I miss you. Always on my mind and in my heart. Love you.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I was thinking of your family today and decided to visit Tommy’s site. Hugs to you..hang in there Botell family.

  9. Lynna says:

    I think of you daily, I havent been on here in quite a while :( Reading the about Christmas and Feb-ristmas brought tears to my eyes for you. However, I would like to thank you. I have always LOVED my children with all that is in me. However, I believe Tommy has taught me to remember how precious every SECOND is with them. Much love to you and yours <3 Lynna

  10. Shawn Greer says:

    Oh my heck Jennifer…I just read this…i know, I know…I’m a little behind schedule, but here’s the thing…God is still using you.

    I cannot imagine, and I truly, honestly pray I never will know, how intensely heartbroken you are and have been. I can’t relate…I can’t and I don’t want to.

    I can say that I am humbled, again, by the amazing work God is doing in you and through you.

    Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.”

    I like that verse sometimes, but sometimes I hate it…sometimes, it’s like, “really God, this is somehow going to become something good?”

    What happened to your family is horrible. Impossibly horrible. Evil in fact. I can see satan just sitting there watching you through your “best years”, watching the smiles and laughter and devising his evil plan to steal your joy.

    July 29 2009 comes and your world shatters…and God says HE can work it together for good. I could not comprehend how it could possibly EVER be good. Until I read this.

    My trials and my suffering are nowhere near as devastating as yours. But I have many days that leave me wondering if my best days are behind me too. You give me hope. Perfectly timed reading…even if I am a little late.

    God is still God. God is sitll good. And I will still praise Him.

    I miss your face gorgeous girl!

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