Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two Years Have Past

It's hard to believe 2 years have past since Rob was taken Home. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. I see him everyday in our girls. Eva is a spitting image of him--looks and mannerisms! Julia has a certain stand and chunky cheeks that are all Rob. When Rob was in the hospital, that time for me was such a haze. Even though it's been 2 years, at times it feels like a lifetime ago. The girls and I have continued to chug forward-some days harder than others. But through all of this, we continue to see God's blessings through the love and support of our family, friends, and strangers. God has placed people in our lives since then who have forever changed us. Instead of focusing on Rob's passing, we focus on his life and what he gave us. Rob touched so many people. He was an open Christian, a wonderful husband, amazing father, a loyal friend,passionate soldier, and caring leader---just to name a few. I know I am a better person for knowing him. Tonight the girls and I ordered pizza, put on our pj's, and watched Christmas Vacation. We used to watch that movie with Rob. Nothing better than some good food and a few laughs to celebrate Rob's memory. I want to end with a "letter" I received when I was presented the Gold Star Flag. I think it sums things up pretty well:

Letter from Heaven

My Dearest Family,
There are some things I’d like to say, but first of all, I want to let you know that I have arrived OK. I’m writing this from heaven where I dwell with God above, where there are no more tears or sadness, there is just eternal love.
Please do not be unhappy just because I am out of sight. Remember that I’m with you every morning, noon, and night. The day I had to leave you, when my life on earth was through, God picked me up and hugged me and He said, “I welcome you. It’s good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone. As for your dearest family, they’ll be here later on. I need you here so badly, as part of My big plan. There is so much we have to do to help our mortal man.”
Then God gave me a list of things he wished for me to do. Foremost on that list of mine was to watch and care for you. I will always be beside you every day and week and year. And when you’re sad, I’m standing there to wipe away your tears. When you lie in bed at night, the days chores put to flight, God and I are closest to you in the middle of the night.
When you think of my life on earth and all those years, because you are only human they are bound to bring you tears. Do not be afraid to cry, it does relieve the pain. Remember there would be no flowers unless there was some rain.
I wish that I could tell you of all that God has planned. But if I were to tell you, you wouldn’t understand. One thing is for certain, though my life in earth is over, I am closer to you now that I ever was before.
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb, but together we can do it taking one day at a time. When you are walking down the street and I am on your mind, I’m walking in your footsteps, only half a step behind. When you feel that gentle breeze as the wind up on your face, that’s me giving you a great big hug, or just a soft embrace.
When it’s time for you to go, from that body to be free, remember you’re not going, you are coming here to me. I will always love you, from this land way up above. I’ll be in touch again soon.
Your loved one.

PS God sends His love.
–author unknown

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to give thanks for the many blessings in your lives. I am thankful for the time I had with Rob. Although it was cut extremely short, I am so blessed to have had him in my life. He taught me so much about life and I am truly a better, stronger person because of him. I am thankful for our 2 beautiful girls. They have a way of making me smile! :) They are a constant reminder of Rob and I know he's looking down and smiling (and I'm sure chuckling some days...especially when they're giving me a run for my money!). I'm thankful for my family for their unending love and support. They have gone above and beyond for us--literally at times dropping everything to help us out. We are so blessed to have such a loving family. I don't know what I'd do without them! I'm thankful for my amazing friends. They continue to reach out to us. Not just on the "hard days" but even on the "everyday" days. There are times when it just feels like groundhog's day and it means so much to get a phone call or email just to see how we're doing. I'm thankful for the perfect strangers who continue to pray for us and show their support and concern. They are a constant reminder that Rob is not and will not ever be forgotten. And most importantly, I am thankful for God. Even through tragedy and pain, He continues to show his presence and love in our lives.

Friday, October 29, 2010

2 years already....

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since I received that horrible, life-changing news. 2 years ago, my husband fought for 34 days for his life. And, boy, did he put up a fight. 2 years ago was the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster ride that still continues today. Although the 2nd year has been harder for me than the first, I continue to hold on to faith and know God has a bigger plan for us. He had a bigger plan for Rob. There is not a day go by that we don’t miss him and think of him. His presence constantly surrounds us. My dad was with Julia when she looked up in the sky and written in the clouds was “I love you”. That was daddy sending his little girl a special note. Yesterday I flew back to Lincoln from Washington DC where I attended a Survivors’ Outreach Summit. This is an Army program that is still fairly new to help survivors stay connected to the military and help us with issues we may have. Throughout this week, I learned so much more about the SOS program and met some amazing people who have left imprints on my heart. There is a special bond between survivors and it was amazing and therapeutic to share stories. There is still a lot that can be done to improve how the military deals with the survivors, and we were here this week to work together and try to get certain things changed, but I have no doubt that Army does appreciate our sacrifice and do care about us. Thank you to everyone for your continued thoughts and prayers for us even 2 years later. They lift us up and help us continue to move forward, one step at a time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We will never forget...

Nine years ago today, I was holding our 12 day old baby girl and my mom was at my house (it was my parents' 30 year anniversary). Rob had officially became active duty the day before. The phone rang. It was Rob. "Are you watching tv?" "No," I said. He told me to turn it on. Every tv station was showing the horrible events that were unfolding. "I think we're under attack, Dena". Like so many that day, my world changed. I just wouldn't know how drastic until 7 years later. 19 months after the 9/11 attack, he left for his first tour in Iraq. A year later, he returned, only to go back to Iraq 9 months later. A few days before Rob left for Afghanistan, he looked at me and said "You know, people can argue over whether or not we should've went to war against Iraq but no one can argue our war with Afghanistan. Bin Laden is the reason for 9/11. We will hunt him down and we will find him." Nobody wants war. War is not pretty. But terrorists who want to take over OUR country do not care if they kill innocent people. In order to defend our country and to defend our citizens, we must find those who so cruely violated us and are trying to take away our freedom. "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the blood stream. Its must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."-Ronald Reagan. So, today I am remembering those who lost their lives on that terrible day September 11, 2001 and the service men and women who continue to fight so that we will never again have another terrorist attack on our land. God bless America and God bless our troops. Freedom isn't free.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy 9th birthday to my sweet Julia!! We celebrated by having a Luau-themed birthday party at our house complete with grass skirts, lei’s, Hawaiian music, and our inflatable swimming pool/slide. It was a fun time and I think everyone truly enjoyed themselves. Then yesterday, we made a spur of the moment trip to Osceola. Every year on our birthday, we put a “Birthday Girl” figurine on Rob’s grave. Julia wanted to do this yesterday since we couldn’t make it out today. On the way to the cemetery, she said “I really wish Daddy could’ve made it to my birthday party but I guess a lot of kids can’t say their dads are everywhere they are no matter where they’re at….so, I guess it’s ok.” What a wise young lady. My heart breaks for her because I know she misses her dad so much, but yet she continues to be so strong. Rob would be so proud. I know I am. The start of the school year has also approached. Julia started the 3rd grade. I can’t believe that! So far, she’s really enjoying it and on the 2 spelling tests she’s had, she’s received a 105%! I’ve decided that 3rd grade math is definitely harder these days than when I took it. It’s pretty sad when I’m having trouble trying to help her with her homework! But, thanks to my sister in law, I think we’re getting the hang of it! :) Eva’s also blooming in her independence. She loves makeup. I caught her the other day in her sister’s room playing with Julia’s makeup. She had mascara on her forehead, lipstick all over her mouth, and finger nail polish on her feet. She thought she looked so beautiful! I couldn’t help but smile because with all that, she never got anything on the carpet! She was “so careful”. The other night, my parents arrived late to my house for the weekend. The girls were already asleep. In the morning when Eva woke up, I told her grandpa and grandma were in the toyroom sleeping. She walked down there, threw open the door and said “Haha! I woke you up and that’s just what I wanted to do!” Where does this girl come from? Oh, I wish Rob was here to see her. She is so much like him that it would be fun to see how the 2 of them would interact. On another note, I finally got my house sold in Texas! There is a program called Homeowner’s Assistance Program. It was opened up to Surviving Spouses and Wounded Warriors. The US Government will buy your house if you are unable to sell it. It’s a great program and I’m so grateful for it, but at times, it was frustrating because for 18 months, I was unable to rent my house out because at any time, the government could purchase it. But, it’s finally over with. Another chapter in my life closed. It makes me sad because it was a beautiful house Rob and I had built and we really loved it, but it made no sense to keep it. I knew I would never live there again so it’s better to go to another family who will enjoy it as much as we did.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I’m not sure where the summer went, but I know for the Yllescas girls it has FLOWN by! Although Julia said she’s “bored” and ready for school to start, we actually did quite a bit this summer! We finally got our boat back out in the water. As much work as a boat is to have, it’s all worth it when we get out in the water. We sure missed the fun we’ve had on the boat. I wasn’t sure how Eva would be on the boat since the last time she was on it, she was only 4 months old. But, she is so calm and relaxed on it! I couldn’t believe it! She sits there and watches as we tube and will get out and play in the sand with all her water toys. This summer, Julia really has gotten brave and is tubing by herself. Before, she was unsure and wanted us to go slow but this past weekend when we went out, she was by herself and kept telling us to go faster! J I haven’t been able to get my wakeboard out this year yet because I’m trying to refamiliarize myself with the boat, but hopefully next year, I’ll get up and “running” again. Exciting news is that Julia finally lost her first tooth a few weeks ago! She is almost 9 so it was quite exciting! I guess this is what happens when you don’t get a tooth until you’re almost 15 months old! Then today, she lost another one! If she’s not careful, she’ll have to eat baby food! Lol We’ve also been busy building a deck in my backyard. It’s almost finished and we absolutely LOVE it! We spend a lot of time outside and this is a great addition for us. One of our biggest perks this summer was we were able to go to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago. This was courtesy of a group called Brat Pack 11. They made all the arrangements and paid for our trip. I was able to have my mom come along and help me with the girls. All of us had an absolutely AMAZING time!!! So, thank you again Brat Pack 11!! Now we’re just trying to scurry around and finish 4-H projects. The fair starts this upcoming weekend and hopefully all the projects will be ready to go. Julia is showing her dog in the fair. This has definitely been a learning experience for both her and D’ogie! Regardless of the outcome, at least D’ogie will have learned some commands and Julia will have learned that it takes a lot of persistant work to train a dog!! J I hope you all have had a great summer. Hopefully it won’t be 3 months before I update again!!! J

Friday, May 7, 2010

Once again, I apologize for my lack of writing! I swear things never seem to slow down, they only pick up speed! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. We went to my parents and had a great time with family. The girls loved the Easter egg hunt grandpa and grandma do every year. I just got back from Ohio. I actually took 2 trips there. The first was to help one of my very good friends, Karen and Craig Bender, with the birth of their baby boy, Jacob Robert. I was honored to be a part of the first few hours of his life. He is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations Karen, Craig, big sister Logan, and big brother Zach!! The second trip, I went with my mom and met up with Karen and some other dear friends to attend the Women of Faith Seminar. I've been to one in the past and it is AWESOME. It really leaves you with a rejuvenated heart and spirit. While we were gone, my dad watched the girls for me and he just about got Eva potty trained!! I couldn't believe it. I'm rather impressed by that. But, I knew she was ready since she'd always try to get her diaper off and she'd go on the big girl potty every once in awhile, but I don't think I was the one who was quite ready! I can't believe she's growing up so fast. She no longer has her crib either. She now has a daybed. Where the heck did the time go? Julia's anxious for school to be out. She only has a couple more weeks. Speaking of growing up too fast, I can't believe she's going to be in the 3rd grade next year. WOW. She had her dance recital a few weekends ago. She did so well. I realized that she no longer dances to the "little girl" songs. She now dances to big girl music with big girl moves. Again, another sign she's growing up! The weekend before I left for Ohio, the girls and I went to Ft Riley for a Ceremony of Remembrance. This was absolutely wonderful. The girls were recognized with a medal and beautiful keepsake box. They were so big when their names were called out and they walked to the front of the room. Even Eva did this quite well (minus one squeaky shoe!). Afterwards, the Lt Dan Band was there. Julia got a chance to ger her picture taken with him. The whole ceremony was beautiful. The girls absolutely deserve to have something like this and I know it made them feel special. I truly appreciate all the effort Ft Riley did to put on such a great ceremony. Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's out there. I'm truly blessed to have such an amazing mom. I really don't know what I'd do without her. I love you, mom!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's been awhile....

Sorry it's been awhile since I last wrote! The girls and I have been staying busy and it's hard to believe it's almost April! I started a small house project a few weeks ago that turned into a bigger one. The wood color that was on my stair banisters and fireplace mantel, I did not like. I've never liked it. But, I thought it would be a lot of work to sand them down and restain them. But, I can honestly say it was the easiest home project I have ever done!!! And they look great. But of course, I couldn't stop there! My kitchen cabinets were a very light color-almost like they weren't stained at all. So, they got sanded down and restained too. That was a lot more time consuming!! I couldn't have done it without the help of some awesome people! :) But they look amazing and I think I'm burned out on projects for awhile. However, my kitchen sink could be replaced to go better with my new cabinet color..... lol

Julia had a field trip to the zoo last week. It was the perfect day to go. The day before and the day after were cold, windy, and even a little snowy. Eva really enjoyed it this year. She got a kick out of the monkeys.

Eva finally figured out how to climb out of her crib. I was hoping this day would never come, but of course, it did! She has her dad's stubborn personality. I knew trying to get her to stay in her bed was going to be, um, fun. The first night was terrible. She was up from 11-1:15 in the morning. But I was just as determined!! The next night, she only woke up a few times and put her self back to sleep and last night she slept all night without waking!! :) Naps are a lot more difficult. Hopefully that will come in time too.

We're all getting excited to get the boat out this summer. We have not been on it since before Rob deployed. Last summer I just couldn't do it. Boating was such an important thing to us as a family. I have so many memories of us with the boat. Those were some of the best times. But I also know that I need to get out and use it. Make some more memories. Rob would want that. It's a beautiful boat and it's a shame that it's not being used. Julia LOVES the boat and is excited to go back out. The last time Eva was on it was when she was 4 months old. I'm hoping she still likes it! :) I'm sure she won't know what to think at first but after a bit, will be quite at home on it!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Eva Grace!!!

Happy birthday Eva Grace!  I cannot believe my little girl is 2.  Time surely does fly.  I remember like yesterday the moment I saw her for the very first time.  Rob brought her over to me and it was so surreal to finally have her here.  She is so much fun.  She’s talking up a storm and it cracks me up with the things she says.  She’s definitely growing into her own personality.  It’s also hard to believe that another year has started.  2009 seemed to go by so fast.  I had a good time at a friend’s annual New Year’s Eve party.  This year it was a 70’s theme and the costumes were hilarious!  January 24th we added a new member to our family.  My brother, Aaron, and his wife, Shelly, welcomed a baby boy Cole Robert.  He is an absolute doll and his big sister, Megan, is very proud! :)  Of course my girls couldn't wait to see him and Eva wanted to hold him all the time.  She's such a good helper! :)  The end of December a reporter from The Washington Post flew up and wrote an article about me and this blog.  I didn’t expect for the story to be so huge.  Before I knew it, the story was in different newspapers all over the country!  It was even in the Stars and Stripes newspaper which is a military paper.  A classmate from highschool is in Iraq and saw it on the front page.  He mailed home at least 20 copies for me to hand out to family and friends.  J  I also have been contacted by the BBC in London and have done 3 live TV interviews with them over the phone and other news stations around the country.  I’m not quite sure how this blog became so huge.  However, I do know that it makes me extremely proud to have as many followers as I do.  Although there are some “anti-war/soldier/Americans” still in America, this proves to me how many Americans (and even those in different countries) truly love America and support our troops.  I have no doubt that Rob lost his life for a good cause (and he also believed in the cause) but also knowing how many Americans truly support our troops, helps make this more bearable.  And the support I have received from this blog over the past 16 months since Rob’s injury and subsequent death, has kept me moving forward.  The support has been phenomenal.  God has blessed me over and over.  I truly pray that my blog has reached someone in a similar situation and has helped them.  In the beginning, my intentions for the blog were to show Rob how much he improved and to share this story with our girls someday.  But now, seeing how many people are interested in my story, I hope to bring comfort and hope to others.