September 8, 2013

Life and Death

A few weeks ago I had the great opportunity to travel to San Diego with my daughters to witness my brother get married to his sweetheart, Jessica, in the LDS San Diego temple.  

Aren't they a beautiful couple?

And isn't it a beautiful temple? 

In our church, when a couple is married in the temple they are sealed to each other and to their children and posterity for time and all eternity, not "as long as you both shall live" or "until death do you part". 
To me it is the most beautiful aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to know that it is God's design for us to be with our families for eternity,
and it was special to get to see Joey and Jessie's new eternal family come to life that day as they knelt across an altar in the temple, held hands, and promised love and fidelity to each other for time and all eternity.

The wedding was beautiful and the reception was a blast.
It was also the first time that my parents and all my siblings have been together in nearly four years.

These are my very best friends, and how cool is it that we get to be together forever?! :)

After the wedding we came home and I began a mad scramble to get Kenadie signed up for preschool, plan some end of the summer activities with the family, and enjoy the Alaska State Fair.  We hadn't been home for more than a few days before we received the devastating news that two of our neighbors and friends were killed in a small plane crash, leaving behind many grieving family members and friends, among them their young wives and children.  
My heart has hurt so deeply for my friends this past week and this question has definitely popped into my head more than once: "Why?"  
"Why them?"
"Why their young sons, who will have very limited memories of the fathers who loved them so much?"
"Why do their sweet wives--who love them so much--have to bear this burden?"
"Why did this have to happen, especially when one of the man's wife is pregnant with their second child?"

Spiritually I feel like a toddler with all  the "why's" that I have.  
My understanding is so limited and there is a lot that I don't yet know.

As a nurse I have witnessed a lot of life: helping to catch babies as they enter the world, watching a young mother be given a second chance at life with a heart transplant, seeing a young man miraculously come out of a coma after a car accident and making a miraculous full recovery.  
As a nurse I have also witnessed a lot of death: a sudden heart attack in a patient who was supposed to go home the next day, a sweet mother and grandmother who hung on for weeks longer than anyone imagined before peacefully letting go of life on her 92nd birthday, a young man who succumbed to cancer shortly after his 24th birthday, a baby who was born still just a week shy of his due date. 
It has been interesting to have had a career that surrounds itself by these two things:
Life and death.
They are such an interesting pair.
Sometimes life is wonderful and sometimes it is really hard.
Sometimes death is so devastating and harrowing, and sometimes it is relieving and full of peace.  
And in all my experience with both, I still don't comprehend it all.
In my continued toddler-like understanding, I am grateful for one thing: I know who to ask the "why's" to.  
I know who will answer them and help me to understand them. 
And even if I, for some reason, am not given all the answers to my "why's" in this life, 
I know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves us.
I trust Him--it isn't always easy, so I guess I just do my best to trust Him.
I know that families can be together forever
and that the constant inflow of new life into this world and the constant outgo of life into the next 
are only steps from and to a loving Heavenly Father's presence; not a God who damns us to hell, shoots lightning bolts from the sky, or delights in our suffering; but a literal and loving Father whose greatest desire and purpose for sending us to this earth is so that we can gain the necessary experience to return and live with Him.

This life is beautiful but it is also difficult and painful,
so I can only imagine how beautiful the next will be when we will no longer have to endure the physical pain and separation from those who have made this mortal life so wonderful to begin with. 


Todd Andrewsen said...

Beautifully written. I understand how you feel. So often we feel we don't know the why's of it all, but we're often not meant to. I love the fact that there is a plan and life and death are a part of that plan. While to us death seems tragic, it is just another step on this journey. There is life after death; families are forever; and it is beautiful to contemplate the grand plan that is so much larger than our short lifespan. Thank you for your thoughts and comments, and thank you for your beautiful family. Wish we could've been at the wedding, the pictures are amazing. May the Lord bless you and keep you and yours and help you, as a nurse, to provide those that are going through one or the other passages of life with the empathy and caring and love that the Lord would show through you!!!

you're awesome!

Camber said...

This was beautiful, Holly. Life would be so senseless and cruel if this life were the whole story, but thank goodness it's not. Thanks for sharing.

Taffy and Tony said...

Beautifully written, Holly. Thanks so much. I have been struggling with some of the same questions as I have an uncle who had a stroke in July and likely won't live much longer. Thank you for the reminder that this life is just part of a much bigger plan and purpose.

Meg said...

I truly wonder how people get through these times that don't have and understanding of God's eternal plan. I'm so grateful for this life, and I'm so grateful to know that this is NOT the only life there is. :) Love you!

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