Three words, ripped from the heart of my older sister changed my life yesterday. ‘Josh is dead’. In a moment, my world spun on it’s axis and everything changed. Down on our knees, right where we were, my husband and children poured our hearts out to our Father. Josh, the second oldest brother in the family of 11. Josh, the boy who filled the stage and town with his smiles and love for life. Josh who made music for the soul and was currently serving a mission. A son, a brother, a friend, a servant of God.
As I walked to my little sisters house, a solemnity seemed to cover this piece of the world. It was if even the birds stilled in their reverence for the moment. All my earlier frustrations about slip and slides, money, and messes left discarded where I heard those poignant words. How could this happen? Just the night before, his father had told me of the accident. Two vertebraes were broken and the doctors operating on him gave him a 1% chance of ever walking again. Shortly after the operation he had wiggled his toes, then rotated his feet and lifted his legs, an unheard of feat. The prayers and fasting of his mission, his brothers mission, our ward and countless others were calling upon the powers of heaven and miracles were happening. The doctors and nurses at the hospital were not of our faith, but they recognized Josh as a man of God and had all joined in our prayers. So many prayers, and such incredible miracles on his behalf. Only four month away from finishing his mission, with one brother on a mission and one more just leaving for the MTC that day, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would be taken care of. A Savior who died for him, surely would not leave him at this critical time.
Tears, hugs and questions formed in all of our minds. We knew that his mother was enroute to visiting him and likely did not know. All around me were little clusters of cousins, friends and siblings crying, hugging and praying. We all wanted to do something to ease the burden of this family. Almost all of my kids had a friend at the moment who’s hearts were breaking. I wanted to go to the home, but did not want to intrude on such a sacred, heart wrenching time. They were our dear friends, but only recently so. Would we, should we go? If I went, what should I say? All day I tossed around my heartache, my doubts, my concerns. Finally, I decided that I would rather go and risk intruding to let them know that they were loved and being prayed for, than to hold back and risk them having to bare this burden alone.
Together, a group of us, nine in total loaded up in our vehicles and made the journey to their home. The solemnity of this occasion weighed upon me. Driving up, I saw a young boy praying on the hill. The house was ‘a quiet house’. We rang the doorbell, and graciously we were let in with tears and hugs. How do you prepare for a moment like this? My eyes caught sight of the 14 year old daughter red-eyed and weary, little Gab, only 7 with quivering lips, and one of my 9 year old cubs bravely biting his lip. Josh’s father lead us to the living room. For the next few hours we quietly listened, hugged, cried, laughed, sang and had our faith strengthened. Such a solemn, sacred time. In this moment, sharing so closely someones pain, the Gospel truths shone brighter than I had ever seen them before. Heavenly hosts felt so close. My faith of life after death, of the atonement, of the gospel was reaffirmed in a way it had never been before. My mind was drawn to a recent conference talk about a father who lost his 18 month year old son Tyson.
The father said:
Tyson has remained a very integral part of our family. Through the years it has been wonderful to see the mercy and kindness of a loving Father in Heaven, who has allowed our family to feel in very tangible ways the influence of Tyson. I testify that the veil is thin. The same feelings of loyalty, love, and family unity don’t end as our loved ones pass to the other side; instead, those feelings are intensified.
That talk has comforted me so many times as I tried to imagine what I would do if I lost one of my own precious children. Life is not fair I would definitely exclaim at a time like this, but hopefully I would remember the beautiful words of another sister, who not so long ago who lost a family member and stated at the funeral “Life is not fair. No it is not. When seen by the eyes of Eternity, it is not fair. It is perfect.”
As we knelt in prayer with this incredible family Josh’s father tenderly related “When we told the kids we gathered like this. We sang “Families Can Be Together Forever” and said a prayer.” With tears he looked at us all and my heart nearly burst with sadness when he simply stated “I am so grateful that singing and praying together is something that is familiar to us”. Gently reminding me that it is those small and simple daily things that you do with your family that binds them to you in times of distress.
My heart is still breaking, my mind is still reeling with the magnitude of this all, but somehow, in the quiet echo’s of my heart, I holding on to that idea. It may not be fair, but it is perfect. Why? Because our Savior who is in heaven is perfect, and because “He live, We shall live also”.