After a particularly emotional Easter Sunday, I was doing my best to just hold it together as we drove home from Church. My oldest daughter (and the rest of the senior primary) sang the most beautiful song during Sacrament meeting called “Miracle” which pulled at my heartstrings and started the day off a bit teary. It was a beautiful Sabbath, but with all of the talk of death, resurrection, and the atonement, my mind had been on my RJ all day.
I was struggling to keep my composure when Gracie started asking me questions from the backseat–hard questions, many of which I didn’t have the answers to.
“Why did Daddy have a blood clot? What does a blood clot look like? Why was it in his head?”
“Why did Heavenly Father need Dad in Heaven? We need him on Earth. Doesn’t Heavenly Father know that?”
“I talked to Heavenly Father when I was sad. I told him I wanted my Dad back, and asked if I could talk to him for just a minute. I talked to Daddy, but I didn’t hear him back. He didn’t answer me. Heavenly Father must not have listened to my prayer.”
“It doesn’t make sense that Dad would die. He was so young. He wasn’t even old and wrinkly. Why didn’t he die when he was old?”
“Are you going to get old and die? What if you and Ryan get sick? What will happen when you die and I can’t see you? I don’t want you to ever die.”
“I had another nightmare about when Daddy was throwing up. I remember I went upstairs to give him a hug and to talk to him, but you told me he needed to rest. You told me to go watch the movie downstairs. Why didn’t you let me talk to him? I never got to talk to him ever again. I’m mad that you didn’t let me talk to my Daddy when he was sick.”
I tried to the best of my ability to answer honestly, but to also comfort her. “Daddy must be a very busy missionary, but he still watches over our family, and helps us even though we can’t see him. Heavenly Father always hears our prayers, even though they aren’t always answered in the way we want. I know it is confusing that Daddy got sick and passed away when he was young. Not everyone lives until they are old, but I plan on living for a very long time. Ryan is healthy too. I’m so sorry that I told you to go downstairs when Daddy was throwing up. I didn’t know that you weren’t going to be able to talk to him again. I wish we all would have talked to him more.” I tried to give her answers to her difficult questions. I wanted to ease her troubled little mind, and give her clarity, but there were also a lot of answers like, “I don’t know honey” and “I wish I knew.”
Because I don’t. I have spent a lot of time contemplating the same questions as she does. I don’t know why or how her Daddy developed such a life threatening clot in his blood. It happened so quickly, so unexpectedly, and the cause of it had puzzled the doctors in Utah as well. I don’t know why he was taken at such a young age, with three babies and a wife left behind to miss and grieve him. Like Gracie, I have many questions I plan on asking when I get to the other side.
I parked the car in our driveway, opened the door, and held out my arms to her for a hug. We stood there, in the doorway of my van for a long time. She was quiet for a moment, and then she looked up at me with a look that I can’t even describe. It was pure devastation. “It’s not fair Mom. I can’t even remember my own Dad.”
And then it was all over. My emotional dam burst and all of the tears I had been holding back were flowing down my face in seconds.
I honestly can’t even imagine. For a child, losing your parent has to be the absolute worst. Watching my sweet girls process their own grief and try to understand the reality of what they have gone through, completely and utterly breaks my heart.
I asked Addie to watch Hudson inside the house, then sat out in the yard with Gracie. As I thought about how hard it must be for her, I wished so much that I had all of the answers. I wished that I could take it all away. I wished I knew how to heal her broken little heart.
And then, I remembered the beautiful messages that I had heard all afternoon. And I realized that I really DO have all of the answers, at least the ones that matter the most.
Jesus is our Savior. He loves us so much that he suffered for our sins, and bled from every pore. He died for each one of us. Because of his ultimate sacrifice, we will all be able to live again after this life. Death is temporary, and pain is only for a time.
With a feeling of relief, I looked into my sweet daughters eyes and bore a simplified version of my testimony of the atonement. I told her that Heavenly Father and Jesus love her so much that they made a plan for her to be able to see her Daddy again. I told her that one day, his spirit and his body would reunite, and that he would be able to touch his scruffy face, and hear his voice–not just in her heart or in old voicemails or pictures, but with her hands, ears, and eyes. In person. And on that day, he will be perfectly strong and healthy, and he will never die or get sick again.
I saw the pain leave her eyes, and then she grinned and told me that she hopes that he stays bald. Because her Daddy looked perfectly handsome, even without hair.
I am so grateful that I know the answers to life’s most important questions. I have no idea how I would be able to cope, or to help calm my children’s aching hearts without the knowledge of life after death, and of the Plan of Salvation. It has truly become my lifeline in the past 18 months.
I am thankful for Easter. And for hope. And for my loving Savior, who broke the chains of death, and loved me enough that he died to save me.
“Jesus is a God of miracles. Nothing is at all impossible to Him. But I know this:
Of all His miracles, the most incredible must be the miracle that rescues me.”