Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Aunt's Passing

While working at the Temple, I received a phone call from my sister, Joni. An email was sent from Denmark that morning with news that my aunt had passed away.
The message was most unexpected. My Aunt Edel had cancer; she had diabetes, yet it was her heart that had finally had enough. So why, with all the difficulties she was facing, would the news come at such a surprise to me? At such a great distance between us all my life, with very few chances for visits, why would the news upset me so?
As I pondered the death of my aunt, perhaps it was because I knew that I never had the chance to know her like I wish I could have. Maybe it was sadness for what never was. I also realize that it hits a little close to home knowing it is my mother’s sister and makes me wish my mother were here. I feel a definite sadness that my Danish family doesn’t have the knowledge and understanding or the peace that the Gospel offers at the time of death.
Of all my Danish relatives, the ones I have been the closest to and have been in contact with over the years have been my Aunt Helen and Uncle Bent. They have kept us updated on news of my grandparents, Mor Mor and Mor Far (he has now passed away) and the rest of the family. It’s them I have known the most and have kept in touch with. Yet the passing away of my other aunt has been quite painful to me.
While she was here, my mother made a point of keeping us close to our Danish family and helped to make an awareness of our heritage. We had our Danish traditions at Christmas time, she sang us Danish nursery rhymes, and kept us in touch with our Danish family. Some of our favorite meals were my mom’s Danish recipes. We all learned as we grew up, to love the Danish side of our family. So whether we were half a world away or half a mile down the street it is still painful to know that one of our family has passed away.
I have a favorite talk about death given by Elder Russell M. Nelson that has really helped me. He said, “Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (
D&C 42:45.) Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.” I love that line…the only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life. We mourn because of the love we have and to me it is better to mourn than to not have love in our life.
He continues to say; “Our limited perspective would be enlarged if we could witness the reunion on the other side of the veil, when doors of death open to those returning home. I can only imagine the wonderful reunion my mother had with her sister and her father… He then says, “Life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death.” I am so very humble and grateful for this knowledge.
“Returning from earth to life in our heavenly home requires passage through—and not around—the doors of death. We were born to die, and we die to live. (See
2 Cor. 6:9.) As seedlings of God, we barely blossom on earth; we fully flower in heaven. We need not look upon death as an enemy. With full understanding… faith supplants fear. Hope displaces despair. The Lord said, “Fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full.” (D&C 101:36.) He bestowed this gift: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)
I am so grateful for the wonderful teachings of our leaders and the scriptures. I am in deed grateful for my knowledge that this is not the end, only a separation for a time.
I am truly grateful for the comfort the Holy Ghost offers and for that gentle and sure knowledge that Families really can be together forever.

It’s my hope and prayer that we can cherish each and every moment that we have here and live them well so that we may return to our Father in Heaven, our brother Jesus Christ, and be reunited with all our loved ones, that we may all receive the blessings of eternal life and everlasting joy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Personal Journey

“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schenk's lawn. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.” ~ Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Last Sunday we sat in church, waiting to partake of the sacrament. I looked over at my son, Bryan, and noticed large tears welling up in his eyes. I gently elbowed my husband to ask if he knew what was wrong. He glanced at him and with concern on his face then looked back at me and shrugged.

I leaned over and whispered, “Hey, Bry. What’s wrong?” He looked down at his hands and said quietly, “I just wish sometimes I was normal.”

My son has dealt with a seizure disorder for most of his life. He has had three brain surgeries. After each, the seizures stopped for a period of time, but then always returned.
If you know Bryan, you probably think of him as the happiest, most carefree child in the world. He has a good heart and loves to make people laugh. He handles his trials so well that last Sunday caught me off guard.

Pulling him between me and my husband, I put an arm around his shoulder. “Who decides what’s normal, Bryan?”

He shrugged. “I just want to be like other kids. I hate seizures. They scare me and I don’t want anyone to see me have one.”

I nodded my understanding then whispered, “Well, there are lots of days when you don’t have seizures. Aren’t those normal days when you’re a normal kid?”

He smiled weakly and said, “I guess so.” I knew he wasn’t convinced.

After a silent prayer I added, “I really believe, Bry, that some of the most incredible things about you have come from what you’ve had to learn to deal with. You hate to see people feel bad, whether they’re hurt or sick. You’re a friend to everybody—especially people who some people consider ‘different.’ You have such a caring heart that you’ll do anything to help others whenever they’re in need. You go out of your way to make others happy. Besides that, you’ve been able to see miracles come to pass in your life. I think that’s because Heavenly Father loves you. He knew this wouldn’t to be easy for you, but He also knew that you could fill a very important mission no matter how hard it gets. Maybe He has something even bigger in store for you. In the meantime, I promise we’ll keep doing everything we can to help you through this. Okay?”

He hugged and kissed me. When the bishopric opened the meeting for testimonies, Bryan was the first one on the stand to declare that he “knew the Lord was true.”

Indeed He is, Bryan.

I love the quote by Sister Hinckley. I began my first blog with it because it says so well how I want to live my life.

I was terrified to begin to blog because, like my sweet son, I don’t want my inadequacies to show—I only want to appear “normal.” I feared that writing here regularly might flaunt my flaws. Thank goodness I have Bryan and Sister Hinckley to remind me that things aren’t always about me—the best things are what we share with others.

With that in mind, I invite you to read of my learning experiences and life’s adventures. I may or may not appear normal, and you can expect plenty of flaws! Here will be my thoughts, my hopes, and my dreams—a personal record that I was here and how I lived.