Star Struck

The America’s Got Talent final show is over and we want to congratulate Darci on her win. We all knew she would wrap things up but the pressure of being the front runner was enormous for her. I’m glad it wasn’t something Evelyn had to carry right now. Thank you to all of you who voted and supported Evie Clair. There is some ambiguity for the lower 5 so we don’t know if she was 6th place or 10th but I believe the opportunities going forward will be similar regardless.

Producers decided to have the star, James Arthur, sing a song with Evie for the finale that she and Kirra and Porter wrote together called “Okay Day.” This is really special for many reasons;

First: celebrities will usually agree to go on shows like this to promote themselves and sing their own songs. James Arthur’s willingness to sing her song and the kind way he did it and his genuine concern for her over the loss of her father were astounding.

Second: a few months ago Evelyn had a very vivid dream where she was in a circle of fire and the rain came down around her and put the fire out. The words to the bridge came to her in that dream;

“When the clouds start to form and the rain starts to fall; everyone knows after rain comes a rainbow after all.”

I’m sure she never imagined that the person who sings the current hit “Say You Won’t Let Go” would be singing it with her for the finale of the biggest show in the world! Nevermind that they only had 20 Minutes to pull it together!

The best parts of the day were the moments we both were star struck. Evie was set to rehearse with James and I had to push her through the practice room door. She was so nervous to meet him in person. She covered her red face and she couldn’t control the water coming from her eyes or the hyperventilating. It was adorable. Thankfully she got past it quickly so they could get to work.

I brought Kirra to help James learn the part she usually sings but they cut the complex parts of the song so he was fine. Hopefully we can get it recorded and release the full version soon. James kept saying he loved the song so much and someone told me he said it was his new favorite.


The star-studded day didn’t end there. We got to hang out with tons of them but the one who personally called her on the phone had the biggest impact.

After stage rehearsal with James Arthur, Evie got a phone call from David Archuleta who is pretty much her favorite singer.

Evie Clair Reacts to Call from David Archuleta

They spok for a long time and after the freak out in front of the AGT staff, she found a quiet corner to really talk with David for a while. When she came back to find me I could tell she had been crying. I asked her about it and she said he was crying too. They were taking about David’s concert that Evie had attended with her dad last Christmas. It was her last daddy daughter date and she will never forget it and is grateful to David for making that time so memorable for her.

Evie then had to dash over for hair and makeup before the dress rehearsal. I thought she looked stunning last night. Our friend Michelle came to our hotel room that morning to do her lashes so she wouldn’t have mascara issues. Love this lady.

I watched the show back stage and their was a segment when they showed Amos. It was so touching and this beautiful Academy Award winning actress, Marlee Matlin, understood the situation despite being deaf, and came over to comfort me. I was a little star stuck by her when I saw out of the corner of my eye that she was crying with me and that someone I looked up to for the barriers she has broken knew what I was going through and mourned with me for that moment.

We spent some time taking pictures with the fan mob after the show then met up with our family and friends for an after party at Johnny Rockets. Aunt Jennie had to head back to the Phillipenes tonight so we were glad to get some time with her and many thanks to my friend Laura for bringing her to the airport.

As the show aired later in Phoenix, Channel 12 News crashed a watch party my sister Christy was having with her mutual group and they interviewed Evie’s cousin Sarah.

Before the night was over, Lucie, the AGT film director who came out to our home a few months ago, handed me a zip drive. She told me it was a message to Evelyn from her dad and to wait to watch it until we were home. What a gift! Not only the Zip drive but this whole day and this whole AGT adventure. It has been a bridge over troubled waters for us and I will always be grateful and marvel the magnitude of these blessings.

In other news, Kirra made her school soccer team! Yay! Can’t wait to get back home to be soccer mom.

Light

AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Live Finale” — Pictured: Evie Clair — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Thank you for lighting up social media last night with Evie Clair. I was reminded by a friend that Clair means light and in some languages it means famous. Both seem appropriate for sweet Evie Clair. She has been a light to me through the darkest days of my life. She is a leader who only watches her own lane unless there is an opportunity to lift someone else. She reminds me of my mom and grandmother who also have the name Clair.

Tonight Howie also spoke of light. After her performance he said…

“Before I tell you what I think of that, I just wanna say that our hearts and our souls go out to you, Evie. I know that your father passed this week, and I cannot believe the strength that I’m seeing in such a beautiful young girl, and this is a very dark time in your life, and we all go through dark times. What gets us through is hoping and praying for that light at the end of the tunnel and your voice, and your song, and your presence here is that light at the end of the tunnel, so thank you so much.”

Mel B: “Well first of all, you look absolutely stunningly gorgeous tonight. You really, really do, and I know your dad’s up there looking down and you must be so, so, so, so proud because what you just did was beautiful. It was so pure and so raw, just well done. Well done, seriously.”

Heidi: “Well I can’t even imagine what you and your family must be going through right now and I just wanna say that you’re one brave little young lady and one amazing singer, and we loved having you here and I wish you all the best of luck tonight.”

Simon: “Evie, I’m not gonna judge you. I am going to send you, or tell you how much I respect you, how much strength you have. This was a perfect tribute to your dad. Just the fact it was total silence means that everyone was listening to you. Your voice was beautiful, the song was beautiful, and I am very proud of you, Evie, for what you’ve just done and you’ve given yourself a shot for tonight, congratulations.”

Simon pulled Evie into his dressing room before the show to acknowledge a thank you card she had given him for the funeral flowers. She has found Simon to be such a kind person through this whole experience. Maybe being a father himself has softened him a little.

I’m not sure how the voting will turn out by morning but I feel she has already won no matter what happens. She loves the other contestants dearly and will be so happy no matter who takes home the prize. Her performance was the most beautiful I have ever seen or heard.

Evie had big support last night. Amos’s mom was there along with all of these crazy kids who flagged down Howie for a picture. He was running from the crowds until he realized they were Evie’s family and friends.

What a Wonderful World was Amos’s song and she sang it as a tribute to him. She said in an interview that he was out there on that stage with her and I believe he was.

Evie will be singing a special song tonight with a guest celebrity so tune in again for the 2 hour Wednesday finale.

My gratitute tonight is to my Heavenly Father and His Son who is the true Light of the World. Evie Clair is only reflecting that source. A mother couldn’t ask for more from her children.

Hollywood Ward

The whole staff here at America’s Got Talent is now well versed in all things Evie Clair. They know she has special dress standards and that she needs Sunday mornings off for church.

The wardrobe lady was so excited to figure out that she could buy two of the same skirts for Evie when they are too short. That way she can layer them so they reach her knees. I told her that was very clever. She also had an open back dress picked out as one option and she told me not to worry because they would sew a back on just for her if that dress was selected by the executives.

This morning we attended the Hollywood Ward. We were warmly welcomed. Before the meeting, the first counselor told us they have had lots of celebrity visits over the years including Donny Osmond, David Archuleta and members of the cast of Porgy and Bess. It’s strange to have him compare Evie to such famous people.

Evie is a huge David Archuleta fan. In fact she was fangirling yesterday when Bishop Elwood called to tell us David Archuleta was trying to get ahold of her through him. David hasn’t contacted us yet but we are looking forward to it. At Christmas last year Evie and her dad went on a date to see a David Archuleta concert and it is one of her favorite memories with Amos.

After a visit with the bishopric counselor,  he asked Evelyn if she would mind being the impromptu youth speaker today. She was stunned but accepted and did a beautiful job. I think she would have felt more comfortable with a special musical number.  She spoke of her dad and her testimony of eternal families. Everyone was touched by her.

We then were taken back to the theater where we were able to see her set for Tuesday. I wish I could share pictures because I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. I kept wishing I could have some confirmation that her dad would be able to see her on that stage.

Grandma and Aunt Jennie took my kids to Stake Conference back at home today where they called a new stake Presidency. We will miss President Ray and I will always be grateful for him and his love for Amos. He spent many nights in the hospital with him.

I got to FaceTime my kids tonight. I feel that Porter might be struggling most with his dad’s passing. He is such a great son and is putting on a smile for now but I can see the pain in his eyes. He was very close to his dad who always took time to understand him and connect to his brilliant mind in a way I can’t.

The Hollywood ward had an especially good Sunday School class where I gained many good insights and parallels between our journey in life and the journey of he early pioneers.

Looking forward to a big week and grateful to all of you for your continued support. I will probably only keep up this blog up until the end of the week to report on how things turn out with Evie since Amos’s cancer journey seems to have come to an end. I will miss writing each day  I think it has been therapeutic for me.

 

 

Funeral Photos and Flowers

My friend Jennifer Garbett took some really nice photos at the cemetery that I wanted to share. The one with Blakely sitting on Phoebe’s lap reminded me of the sweet words she shared at the family viewing.

In the sweetest voice she stood and told us that while we all believed dad would get through this and be ok, she believes he did get through it and he is ok. She said she also knows dad wants us to be happy. I love that smart girl and the ways she reminds me of Amos. Eventhough she is only 8, I hope she never forgets her time with him and the things he has taught her.

In addition to these funeral photos, Jen took family photos last year that my other friend Nicole had framed and sent to our home the day after Amos died. Along with those pictures, our home is also filled to the brim with beautiful flowers.

We had flowers come from family, friends and some other pretty cool people and organizations like the US Department of the Interior and the Arizona Interfaith Movement. We also got a massive arrangement from Simon Cowell and his wife then a separate one from Howie, Heidi, Mel B, Tyra and the AGT crew. We also got flowers from Luis Gonzalez (Gonzo) and the Diamondbacks just today.

I am in awe of the thoughtfulness of so many people.

There was another special moment at the viewing when a bunch of Amos’s wrestlers from Gilbert High School brought in a framed tribute to Amos with a wrestling uniform and presented it just before my dad said the family prayer and we closed the casket.

Evelyn has had a hard day. Halfway through two different interviews she broke down and ran away. She would do fine until they would ask specific questions about her dad and then she would go silent. I felt so bad for her. I was really proud of her for pulling herself together in both instances to continue the interviews saying her dad didn’t teach her to be a quitter.

Viewing

Just a beautiful, peaceful day. I had an appointment to pick our cemetery plot this morning. We will have a double plot so I can be buried with my sweetheart. I knew the right spot as soon as I saw it and I’m glad it was available.

I then had an opportunity I will never forget as long as I live. I was able to help dress my husband in his temple clothes. This was the last physical act of service I will be able to do for my husband in this life and my heart was full. The feelings were indescribable.

Tonight we had so many people come for the viewing at the funeral home. Flowers came from all over and they were beautiful. So many people came in from out of town to show support and I was blown away.


We are looking forward to seeing many of you at the funeral tomorrow.

America’s Got Talent was on an hour later tonight and we were thankful for that. We gathered with our extended family after the viewing to watch our friends perform. They were amazing and we are excited to meet up with them later this week.

Intensive Care Unit

I was able to be with Amos over night and it was a special time for us. He was very sweet to me despite his pain and discomfort.

He didn’t have any terrible issues until early this morning when they said they were going to give him his pain pills by mouth rather than through the vein as they had done all night. He threw up and may have aspirated. Now his lung issues have become more of a problem than his liver issues.

His billiruben dropped again last night which is a good sign that his liver is making a comeback, but the lung and oxygen issues got him transferred to a new floor and now I just heard that they are transferring him again. Now he will be in the ICU and they will do the lung and abdomen draining procedures there at his bedside around 7pm.

Please pray for his procedures to go well. He is still fighting with everything he’s got. He really wants to pull that oxygen mask off.

The Johnstone clan showed up today and we are so glad. Amos hasn’t been too responsive today but when he woke up to Casey’s face he said “holy crap!”

Tracy’s kids also drove all night to be here today and it is fun to see them. Tracy is such a calming influence on everyone.

Dean is still doing an amazing job keeping his boy going. He also helped me last night when Porter got lost driving around and ran out of phone battery. He finally asked directions after about an hour and found his way.

Our ward continues to bring meals and cards and love and support. The stake president asked us to have a special fast for Amos tomorrow and I look forward to the needed blessings that will come from that.

Evie Clair is getting ready for the big show and I’m so excited for her. She had to catch up on some “on set” school today. I can’t show any of the exciting photos like sets or wardrobe so a school picture with Darci and Merrick will have to do. It looks like they got photobombed by Miss Blakely.

We’ll Remember Tonight

My blog is late today but this day has been so full that it spilled over to the next day. I agree with the lyrics in Evie’s song “We’ll remember tonight for the rest of our lives.”


Not being with Amos on our anniversary was difficult but it was also about the most special and memorable anniversary I can remember. Evie’s light shined so brightly that the whole world had a glimpse of the love we have in our marriage and our home.

So many people helped us feel loved and comforted today. I didn’t expect Simon Cowell to be one of those people but it was so thoughtful of him to publicly send his love to Amos. We have also felt that genuine love and concern from the entire America’s Got Talent staff   and even other contestants and their families.

Amos fought all day to be awake and ready for the show. Thankfully AGT sent him a link to watch it since the Trump rally in Phoenix and violent after effects superseded America’s Got Talent in Arizona. His oncologist walked into his hospital room tonight just as he was watching Evie so Dr K had a chance to see her too. It isn’t hard to find a link to watch a clip but I suggest watching the whole show on nbc.com. They have an incredible tribute to Amos where they show him at the prison and at church as bishop. It was incredible from start to finish.

Amos is really struggling today despite his will to enjoy the show. The things he is enduring are unimaginable. They are considering a procedure that would permanently numb parts of his digestive tract so he could live with less pain medication.

Some good news…the ostomy specialist came and found that the blood in the ostomy was from a leaky blood vessel near the opening and not a perforation in the bowel.

Internal Battle

Today Evie and I woke up and went to her call time at the Dolby.  It was incredible to see everyone getting ready for the first big live show of the season.

After her rehearsal I was feeling some anxiety about Amos and wanted to get back to the hotel. Evelyn is trying to get over a cold so we stopped to get some vitamin c, echinacea and goldseal as prescribed by her AGT vocal coach.

When we got back, I did a FaceTime call with Amos who was at his doctor’s appointment at the cancer center.

My anxiety increased as I saw and heard him. He seemed to have gotten much worse just since yesterday as he struggled to get out a few words. I thought he may be over medicated but when they got his labs back they found a more urgent problem. They believe he has a blockage in his liver that is causing an infection. His white blood cell count doubled in the past week indicating an internal battle. More tests are still being done and a surgery to remove the blockage and place a stent in his liver are underway. He has been admitted to the hospital and I am trying to collect myself.

Evie and I had a prayer together for him and Phoebe’s husband Ken and his brother Rob went to the hospital to give him a blessing. They had me on speakerphone to hear it and it was so reassuring for me. Thank you.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Amos relished his day with his family yesterday but last night and today hit him hard. He was up most of the night trying to keep pain, pressure and vomiting under control. I was up with him and it was probably the most difficult night of my life.

This morning he said a tearful goodbye to his dad and Connie who he will miss dearly. More tears came as he said goodbye to the rest of his family throughout the day and to Tom’s family this evening.

I was thinking about how this would be if it was my little brother who was suffering so far away. I can imagine how difficult this is for his family members.

Today his energy was drained and he couldn’t make it to the Tucson Temple dedication despite his great desire to attend. He signed temporary temple recommends for his sweet little girls and struggled the rest of the day just to survive.

Tom and Paige took our kids and came home to tell us about how wonderful it was.

I stayed home and trained Phoebe on all the procedures for Amos. She will be draining him, administering his TPN and keeping track of his medications while I’m in Los Angeles with Evie for America’s Got Talent. I’m so thankful for my sisters.

Leaving him right now is so difficult for me and Evie but I have renewed hope today that despite all indications that this is the end for him, it isn’t.

He will get through this and solutions will come through promptings of the Holy Ghost and the help of the medical professionals who have charge over his care. I know it.

I have some people to thank today. First is his brother, Tom, who literally caught Amos’s potential fall in the bathroom.

Robyn Maloy for the wonderful and timely dinner tonight. She had no idea how many people were here and she happened to bring the exact number of servings we needed.

I also want to thank my beautiful friends Ezra and Tiffany who brought treats. I hope they know how much we treasure them.

Thank you to Ken for not only letting me steal Phoebe for the week but also for bringing out the truck for Porter to use until we can figure out what is wrong with his car.

Thank you again to Michelle Hobson who added some length to Porter’s suit and some breathing room to some of my clothes for the live show.

You are a gem and his pants looked great today. 

The things we are going through are so heart wrenching but we have never felt alone. We have been bless and strengthened every day. All you have to do is read through any given day of our journey to know. God is good. He is in charge. His Son has suffered all things and knows what we need to help us through the storms we face.

Upswing

Amos said to me tonight that he is sensing an upswing. We did notice that he had more energy. Getting worse wasn’t an option so the only way was up. It really helps to be able to drain his stomach at home.

He actually wanted to get dressed this afternoon and as he came down the stairs for the first time in a couple days, he realized his brother, Tom, from Washington was sitting on the couch. Tom loves surprises and thought he would come into town early to see his brother. 

It was a good thing he came early because I had to run Evie to Gilbert and Amos needed to start his TPN before I got back. Dean and Tom worked together to figure out all the complicated steps with the help of FaceTime and Nurse Margene.

Evie was a hit tonight as the guest speaker/performer for a young women mutual night in Gilbert.

She told them about her experiences on AGT and answered questions. She made them cry with some really special songs then made them laugh with her Miranda Sings impression.

Thanks Phoebe and Michelle Owens Rigby for setting up such a fun night.

The timing was perfect because NBC aired a special “Road to the Finals” edition of America’s Got Talent Tonight so all the girls got to watch Evie on TV while they were with her.

If you missed this episode, catch it on NBC.com tomorrow. It had lots of footage we hadn’t seen and was really well done.

Dean and Connie were super stars today. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, caring for Amos, spending time with my kids, installing lighting and finding ways to make things more efficient. What a blessing they are.

We all plan to keep the upswing going and get Amos through this rough patch.