This blog entry is a little different. Usually you get to hear from a blind mom. Tonight you will hear form a sighted father. Nicole is my better half. She is literally the center of my world. Words in the English language cannot express the love that I have for her. When you see us out in public you will always see Nicole hanging onto my arm. When i am out without her i almost feel like a fish out of water. We are as close as I feel it is possible for two people to be. I need her and depend on her for strength and support as much as she depends on me to be her eyes. Some times I jokingly tell people that I am her guide dog, but in reality she is the one who is truly leading me.
This past week has been an emotional one for both of us. It has forced us to relive some really great memories that we have shared, and It has also forced us to say goodbye to a place that is very sacred and meaningful to our family. This week we have been forced to say goodbye to Peyton Park. Peyton Park is literally a little piece of heaven on earth to me. It is a symbol that has a lot of meaning. As I tell you our story and you watch the video I think you will see the symbolism that I see in the Park and will be able to more fully understand the emotions I am wrestling with as I write.
Just over six years ago I was setting at my desk at the Iron County School District Office. I was at the time working there as a network administrator. It was a sunny Friday Morning in June and I was swamped with the task of getting all the labs in the district updated and ready for the approaching new school year. As I sat at my desk I received an email. The email was informing Cedar City residents that a new TV show on NBC had picked Cedar as a place that they wanted to have an open casting call. The casting call was to be help the following day. They were looking for stories of people who had been faced with amazing challenges. They wanted residents to come tell the story of someone they know and make a wish for them. My thoughts quickly turned to my wife. No one I know had ever faced more hardship and challenges than her.
As I sat there at my desk I started to relive the nightmare that we had faced head on together. When I think of what we have lived through it starts to seem like a Lifetime Movie Network original movie. I would never have believed it if I had not lived through every terrible moment of it. We did live through it, and we were in fact still standing. The only real casualty of our ordeal was Nicole's vision. She was now left completely in the dark. I then snapped back to reality, and went about my work day. I thought about about a wish I could make for Nicole off and on throughout the day, but concluded that I just didn't want to go tell her story and be forced to relive it all over again. I liked to keep a lot of the pain locked away in a place that I didn't want to visit.
Just before five o'clock I returned to my office after a day off running around to various schools. The earlier thoughts of sharing Nicole's story to a TV show had been replaced with plans of trying to make sure I was going to be able to get all of the new computers and lab software ready for teachers and student to return. I had determine that I would keep Nicole's story to myself. I sat down and realized I had an unbelievable amount of email in my inbox. I had had over 30 people forward the email about the casting call and pleaded with me to go and tell her story. Then our secretary started in on me and told me I was crazy not to go. I thought I would hurry and get out of the office before I was jumped by anyone else. I didn't make it to my car. The ladies in the office downstairs caught me and started in on me. It seamed that everyone that received the email thought of my wife.
Nicole and our little daughter Peyton were in Fairview staying with Nicole's mom for a few days and I was going up that night to stay in Fairview for the weekend and then bring them home. I thought about it for a few hours trying to decide what I should do. I knew that it would seem a little strange to tell Nicole that I was staying in Cedar Friday night and would not come up until later on Saturday afternoon. I decided to pray about it and see if that would help me decide if I should stay in Cedar and share Nicole's story. I felt very strongly that this was an opportunity to share with people how amazing Nicole is and how her attitude and our families faith had helped her to overcome so many obstacles. We truly had seen amazing miracles and I felt it was wrong to keep them all to ourselves.
I decided to stay in Cedar that night and go to the casting call. I arrived at the Heritage Center downtown about a half hour before the casting call was to begin. I wanted to get it over with as quick as I could so I could get out of town and go see Nicole and Peyton. I had never been away from ether of them this long before and I was really missing them badly. My bags were packed and I was planning on leaving as soon as I was through telling them about Nicole. When I arrived I was amazed to find hundreds and hundreds of people in line to get in. I literally saw the line and went back to my car and started to leave. I started to pull out of the parking lot and it was almost like a voice inside of me said, "This is your one opportunity to share your miracle with the World". I turned off the car and went to get in line.
We were all taken to a large conference room where we were asked to fill out a mountain of legal documents and to tell them about the wish we wanted to make. This was honestly the first time I had thought about a wish. I had been thinking about telling everyone about what an amazing woman my wife was but the thought of making a wish for her had not even entertained my thoughts. I started to talk to some of the people around me. Most had a very specific wish. Some were really amazing. Some were incredibly selfish. I had no wish, not one that would come to mind. I am here auditioning for a TV show called Three Wishes and I literally could not think of a wish. You know wishing for Nicole to see again is an obvious wish that we all share but I know that it would take another miracle not a TV show to grant that wish. Suddenly I was called up to go into a room and tell one of the Producers about my wish. I had all of the paperwork filled out but the question about a specific wish was blank. I am sure that day that I am the only person in the room that didn't have a wish.
I sat down and began to tell the one of the producers why I was there. I told them about how Nicole and met each other. How for me it was love at first sight. I had not been in the same room with Nicole for more than ten minuets and I knew that she was the one I would spend eternity with. I told them that nine months later we were married in the Manti Temple on September 17, 1999. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we believe that when you are married in the Temple that it is not just until death do you part like other marriage vows. In our Temples we are Sealed together for Time and all Eternity. This belief is one of the most important doctrines of our faith. It is also one of the only things that would help to get me through the trials that would lay ahead.
I finished telling her our story with tears pouring down my cheeks. I then looked up and she was crying as well. She then told me to wait in that room for a second and that she would be back. I then told our story a second time to three other producers. We all cried together as well. One of them said, "there is only one thing left for us to do, we need to meet Nicole". Two months later the adventure that we had with Three Wishes would begin. I post this video so that you can understand what Three Wishes ment to our family, and that you can understand the pain I feel seeing Peyton Park destroyed.
The decision to to tear it out was a rash decision by the owners of Sunset Ridge Village that I hope will haunt them all the rest of their lives. There was a mudslide that threatened the park. It was my feeling that this was something that could have been handled with very differently. The lack of respect to our family and to the Park durring this time has been unbelievable. They started to take it out without a call or even a visit to our home. They had started to sell the bricks and tore down the gazebo before I knew that they had made a decision to take it out. I had to literally force them to make contact with us. It was after I spent 5 hours with a sledge hammer and a hammer drill to get the little statue of Peyton out of the ground that they called. I was not about to have them treat the statue with the same respect that they showed me and Nicole. They have now determined that they will let us take the playground equipment so that we can have control of what happens to it. That was not the case in the beginning. They were going to "donate it" to "somewhere in St. George". I thank them for the belated concern and respect. The fact that it took them months to even talk to us was beyond a joke.
I will rebuild the Park because of all that it stands for. It will not be on the same plot of land or even the same neighborhood but it will be rebuilt. Even rebuilding the Park will not take away the pain that this has caused Nicole, our kids, and the other families in the neighborhood. Every child should be able to have a park nearby to play in, especially one that was as beautiful as Peyton Park. It is my quest to make sure that I can build as many Peyton Parks for as many children as I possibly can.