Letter to our Children, 4 Apr 2016
“This is not who I want to be. This is not how I want to be remembered. I want to run and play. There is so much I want to do.” Last night I listened to these words for my lovely wife, as she spoke with such sadness and fear and anguish of soul. This was not the first time nor the last that she will feel and utter such feelings.
I have listened to your mothers grief and tried to comfort her so many times over the years. Her pain, fears and sadness weigh heavily upon me, but not nearly as much as they weigh upon her. I know that you all feel her sadness and fear as well. I know you want your mother to see you get married, and to bake pies for your grandchildren. I feel most sadly for Noah and Christopher. They hug her all the time and come and sit by her in bed. Last night, I sat at the foot of their beds as they lay down to sleep, and explained in very simple terms that their mothers cancer was spreading and that is why she is sad and sick. Upon saying this, Noah’s face showed with instant anguish and he plugged his ears with his fingers and rolled over to face the wall. I went over and laid by his side with my arm over him until he fell asleep, and then I went over tucked Christopher in. They had wanted me to read to them, like I often do, but didn’t last night. Tonight I will read to them. This morning they bounced out of bed, and when I left they were with a happy and loving mother, who was making them lunches and preparing for her morning devotional with them.
Mom is trying with all of her soul to not despair. It is so hard though because she loves you all so much that she just wants experience life with you. She loves life, and wants to experience it to its fullest. She doesn’t want to miss out. She wants you all to experience the happiness of happy family life and children of your own. She wants you to do well in school, be healthy, be temple worthy always, and to marry happily.
None of us should really despair, because of the hope we have in Christ. As I was out walking early this morning I was thinking about my own grief, and how I felt cheated, and also feeling sorrow about my own sins and shortcomings. I thought about how we could all rise above our griefs and be happy. Often we experience sorrow and happiness together, and I think it is right for us to feel great sorrow for your mother. I think not to have deep sorrow in this situation would be wrong, absolutely wrong. Still, it would also be wrong not to recognize and give thanks for the great blessing we have and for all of our experiences in life. On my walk I had just listened again to the story of Elder Wirthlin’s mother, after his football team had lost a big game and he was feeling down, she said to him, “Come what may, and love it.” Easy to say about a football game. A lot harder to say about cancer and being robbed of so much in life. But I thought this morning that in some future day in eternity, Mom and I would look back with gratitude and love for Heavenly Father and Jesus, for giving us all of these experiences. We do that a little now, we have a little faith that is helping us through this.
I hope you all stand true to the faith which we cherish. That you all come through the trials of life faithfully. I want you all to keep working hard, and to stay focused on your schooling, and on making an eternal family. We will have many moments of happiness together as we do this. Be at peace in your heart and mind and have faith and hope.
I will be fasting tomorrow and Sunday. This Sunday is our fast Sunday, and maybe it is yours too. We know you pray for Mom all the time. The little boys still pray out loud and always pray for me and Mom. Thank you for that!
I will send you another email about our plans over the next weeks and few months. I love you all!
PS- please keep reading
The talk that I listened to on my walk this morning was the last talk of conference back in Oct, by Elder Bednar. He was quoting the from some of his senior apostles, some who had recently died. These words rang true to me and I think we can be helped through this by reading them:
Several years ago I spent a Sunday afternoon with Elder Hales in his home as he was recovering from a serious illness. We discussed our families, our quorum responsibilities, and important experiences.
At one point I asked Elder Hales, “You have been a successful husband, father, athlete, pilot, business executive, and Church leader. What lessons have you learned as you have grown older and been constrained by decreased physical capacity?”
Elder Hales paused for a moment and responded, “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”
Elder Wirthlin delivered his final general conference message in October of 2008.
“I still remember [my mother’s] advice to me given on that day long ago when my team lost a football game: ‘Come what may, and love it.’
“… Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives. …
“As we look for humor, seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation, and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we can endure hardship and trial. We can say, as did my mother, ‘Come what may, and love it’”
Elder Perry stood at this pulpit just six months ago. At that time we could not have imagined his testimony would be his last in a general conference.
“Let me close by bearing witness (and my nine decades on this earth fully qualify me to say this) that the older I get, the more I realize that family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness.
“I give thanks for my wife, for my children, for my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, and for … extended family who make my own life so rich and, yes, even eternal. Of this eternal truth I bear my strongest and most sacred witness”
President Packer emphasized in general conference six months ago the Father’s plan of happiness, the Savior’s Atonement, and eternal families:
“I bear witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. He stands at the head of the Church. Through His Atonement and the power of the priesthood, families which are begun in mortality can be together through the eternities. …
“I am so grateful for … the Atonement which can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated. The Atonement can put you free again to move forward, cleanly and worthily” (“The Plan of Happiness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 28).
President Packer’s final message is a lesson of a lifetime from a man I love and who emphatically and repeatedly declared that the purpose “of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity”