Today marks eight years since my mother died. I have been asked to speak in Young Women's tomorrow about experiences I have had which made me draw closer to my Heavenly Father and I felt VERY strongly to share the story of my mom. I am not one to share my deep personal feelings but after writing my talk I realized I never wrote my experience in a journal and that I needed to. Don't feel obligated to read it, but if you do, I hope it touches you somehow. We all have pain in this life, but through that pain we find joy. Here goes.....
After knowing each other just a couple of months, Mike and I were engaged. I picked out a dress, we had pictures taken, and set the date for March 10th, 2001. We went about our lives, working, going to school, sharing our joyous plans with friends and family. One day, while meeting at my car at the U for a quick “hello” between classes one September afternoon, I suddenly had a very deep, strong burning in my heart. I told Mike I felt we should move up the Wedding date. Being a man, he had NO problem with that. He even suggested we get married in October. We told our families and in the beginning they were hesitant. My mom thought it was because we were spending too much time alone together. ;) We moved the photographer, the Temple, and all other arrangements to January 3rd. I didn’t know why I felt this need to move up the Wedding- especially because I hate snow and cold and the last thing I wanted was a winter wedding. But, I felt at peace about my decision and knew it was the right thing to do.
That November, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. From the day of her diagnosis she went downhill very quickly. Rather than shop for bridesmaid dresses with her daughter, my mother went to chemotherapy and took medicine that made her ill. My mom never let on that she was sick. She hid it from friends and neighbors for as long as she could. She went on taking care of her family, upholding her church responsibilities and trying to appear happy. No matter how sick doctors told her she was, she kept up the hope that she would overcome her illness.
Mike and I were married as planned in January. It was a beautiful winter day at the Bountiful Temple and I remember as I was in the ceiling room thinking “this must be what heaven is like”. Our family and friends all joined together celebrating and smiling. We had the luncheon and the reception and it was simply a perfect day. My mom was by my side and got to have all her closest friends see her looking radiant and proud.
One month later, on February 7th, I was by her side as she left this life. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. It was strangely beautiful and peaceful. I felt surrounded by love and I knew we were not alone. The next few days I was carried by the Lord. I never thought that soon after I had planned the happiest day of my life I would be planning a funeral for my mother. I was afforded great strength and was even able to sing at her funeral. At the grave site I remember turning to two of my best girlfriends and saying, “is it weird that I feel happy?” I wasn’t happy that my mom was gone, but I knew she was okay and that I would be okay. I knew this because I have a testimony. I know I will be with her again. What a comfort it is to have the knowledge of an eternal family.
At her viewing a man came up to me and introduced himself as our new Bishop. Mike and I had only been married for a few weeks and had spent our Sundays taking the sacrament in the hospital with my mother. I still don’t know how he knew about my mother’s passing. That night there were cupcakes on our front steps from my new visiting teachers. I felt such an overwhelming sense of love and comfort. The Lord had touched me through the kindness of a bishop and sisters I had never before met. You never know the meaning of even the smallest gestures we make to someone in need. The memory of those cupcakes on my porch still fills me with love.
It has been exactly eight years since my mother died and I still miss her. I am so grateful that I was able to know her for 20 years, that I was able to learn from her example and that the Lord prompted me to move up our wedding date. If we had waited until March my mother wouldn’t have been there to help my put on my white dress and watch her daughter married in the Temple. I am grateful that I was living the Gospel so that I could hear the promptings of the spirit telling me to move up the date. I am grateful I heeded to the promptings because I am stubborn and most often do things my own way. No matter how sad I feel and how much I miss her, I am grateful the Lord waited a month to call her home.
At the cemetery visiting Grandma with Mike and Melody. I am sad my mom will never know my children in this life and that I cannot lean on her for advice. I KNOW I will see her again and I KNOW she is near. I have felt her presence and know she watches over my babies. I think she also gave them pointers in heaven as to how to drive me insane. Some of the things they do are a little too similar to things I did in my childhood.....
Okay, so I just read through to look for typos and realized when I said we met for a quick "hello" it sounds like we met for a booty call. I will have to revise it for my talk but I will leave it for y'all to imagine any way you choose. ;)