Monday, September 22, 2008

Mara went home today

From Mara's site:


9/22/08

Mara passed away this morning at 8:12am. Her body now rests peacefully and her spirit has returned to her Heavenly Father and her Savior. Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers - they have been felt in abundance.


So we've been a bit emotional today. We heard last night that this was probable but it's so difficult to swallow. I feel grateful for my little ones and yet I am breaking inside for Heather and Bryan, Max, Natalie, Katrina and their families (of which we are a part).

Mara is Ashlyn's age - just starting 1st grade, 6 years old, cute, loves to write and draw... It's just so easy to see my little girl in her when I read Heather and Bryan's posts. It's a bit distant for Rick, as he doesn't know Mara, but I feel her loss keenly. I think mothers are that way.

I had a good long cry this morning (and follow up sessions throughout the day that I'm sure aren't finished yet), just like I did about this time last year when I received the email telling the family about Mara's condition. Ashlyn and Nathan came in today and wanted to know what was wrong and I have to say that I didn't really want to tell them. Ashlyn calls Mara her "friend" and prays for her ALL the time. I knew it would be crushing. I feel sad that they never knew each other here on earth, but it's sweet to know that they'll meet again just a little later. We knew Mara's condition hadn't improved and recently there was a point where I was ready to pack up and drive to Washington to visit Mara when Ashlyn had a long weekend off from school. I knew it was silly and impulsive (driving for 4 days by myself) but I really wanted our little girls to meet. I know they would have loved each other. Well, of course I did tell the kids why I was crying and at first I'm not sure that they knew what to do - how to react. I talked to them about how my sadness was not for Mara, but for those who love her and are separated from her for a time. I tried to emphasize how happy and free Mara is now - how she can dance and draw and laugh and eat yummy things and run and play and be with her family in Heaven. It was still sad, but I think it was helpful for them to see that for Mara this is a release from pain and frustration. She is whole again.

This past week/end I've tried to prepare a few Family Home Evening lessons to get some completely ready to go so I don't have to scramble. I scrapped those lessons for tonight and think it is important that we have a lesson about the Plan of Salvation. Because the knowledge we have that life and families are eternal, that death is just a blip in our lives, and that we are all children of God who started with Him and will return to Him is why we can have a measure of peace when so many others do not.

I remember a roommate I had in college - Gracie. I remember vividly a conversation that we had late one night in the room we shared about death. She was a born-again Christian. She was very active (as was her mother) in her church. Her father had died before he had decided to follow any particular religion and as a result, Gracie considered her father to not have been "saved". She bawled like a baby as she told me this. She cried because her religion taught her that because of this - because he had not been baptized - that he was currently in HELL. I was blown away that she believed this and embraced a religion that taught her that her wonderful, loving father was in hell. With the devil. As if he had done some terrible, unspeakable sin and deserved punishment. I wasn't going to any church at the time but I KNEW that that couldn't be true. God is not like that. He is a God of mercy and love and I knew that what Gracie believed was not right. That is not how things work. What about all the people on earth who have never even heard of Christ, of his atonement and sacrifice for us? People who, through no decision of their own - perhaps time or distance or the place where they lived - were prevented from having a knowledge of Christ? I told her my feelings. That God was Love and loved her and her father and would never be so harsh. I told her that it made no sense - of course her Dad was in heaven - he hadn't been a bad person. But she was adamant and ended our conversation in a rage that I was trying to tell her differently than what she had been taught. I was stunned. How blessed I was was to later find a church that taught exactly what I knew all along - that life is eternal and does not end nor begin with mortality. We will all have a life after this in which we will again meet our Savior. After this life our spirits will be at peace and if we haven't accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this life we will be taught in the life to come and have the chance to kneel at the Savior's feet and accept him. Doesn't that just resonate? I know it did with me when I heard it. What kind of God would penalize you for not having heard of Christ and therefore not being baptized and living his commandments? Held to a law you know nothing about? Totally not fair and, of course, that's not how He works. But so many people don't know that.

And so, tonight, I'm going to formally go over exactly what this life is, how we came here, and where we are going. We talk about this informally so much that it won't be new to my kids but I want to give them the vocabulary and some visuals so that they REALLY understand and can KNOW and have the peace that all of our family has right now. They can KNOW that Mara's had a BIG hug from Jesus himself, and her grandmas and granpas, cousins, and friends and everyone that's passed on before her. My kids can know that we are here to live and grow and learn and try and eventually to die and return home. I'm excited to share this with them again and again and I hope they'll be able to share this with others. Because to think like Gracie did - that would be hell.

1 comment:

McEwens said...

I am so sorry..... I hope the formal talk goes well.... death of a child, is there anything harder...?

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