I want to read through General Conference. This time, especially, it filled me like rain on parched ground. As I get older, time flies, but the time between conferences seems almost too long these days….Maybe because it is my lower light, and I am out in the storm, and when you are in a storm, it seems longer than it is.
I need those lower lights, let me tell you.
One thing I have been thinking isn’t exactly something I want to make into a meme or a quotable, and I am struggling with how I feel about feeling the way I feel about it.
If that makes any sense.
Sister Stevens shared a story about a family who battled a devastating cancer diagnosis. She quoted one of the daughters as saying that while she would never have asked for the trial they had gone through, she would never give it away.
As I sat there listening to her words, my first and only thought at that moment was:
I would give it away.
I thought that if somehow Heaven were to come and say I could have Joy back, or I could erase that night she died, I would give that experience back and all that I have learned from it without even taking a breath or batting an eye.
And I wonder if that makes me not as good as I should be.
I know that I have learned a lot from my experience with Joy’s death–for me it was either make it count or just give up, and I am not someone who gives up. So, I learned from it.
I learn from it every day. Because it is either that or cry, and I would rather choose Joy and hope.
I learn from it every second, actually, because I think of her every time I breathe in and out.
And I have gained lots of learning.
But the cost is too high, and it is not something I would keep.
I don’t know how to explain how I felt when Sister Stevens said that. I guess it was kind of like being gut punched, and I am not sure why I felt that way. I guess I just felt bad that I am so absolutely certain that I don’t want it–this trial, this challenge, this learning experience.
I can’t say I wouldn’t jump at the chance to have her back and have that night be a bad dream or obliterated out of existence–I can’t say that I appreciate the collateral damage of broken hearted, scared children and the years John and I have lost to grief and pain.
It’s not like we don’t have faith and know all is well–but in between the faith and the “all is well,” are times when it isn’t well, and it is painful and we can’t make those parts go any faster. It just takes as long as it takes, and it’s not a year, or when the other kids get older, or when you have another baby–it’s not really ever over.
We are getting better at living with it–it’s like a disability that no one can see. Things are not the same and never will be, and we see differently and walk differently and talk differently than we did before, and there is nothing to be done but learn how to live with it. We can’t undo it, we can’t overcome it (only the Resurrection can do that), we can’t make it disappear with positive thinking–we just have to accept our limitations and go forward with faith.
It has taken years to get to the point where we even feel like we are starting to understand how to navigate our lives with this experience as an integral part of it. And I don’t mean we are living in the past or dwelling on it. With the knowledge of the gospel and forever families comes a unique challenge.
While other people can live in their memories to find comfort, we can’t so much.
We would sometimes like to, but our knowledge that she is alive and well and present makes it impossible to find a whole lot of comfort in living in the past. So, we have to find comfort through the Spirit. There are no shortcuts here. We can only assuage the pain with our confidence that we are living well and close to Heaven, because that is the only way we can feel her close.
Memories don’t feel nearly as tangible as actually feeling her close when we are living well.
But, we aren’t that good at living well all the time. We fight. We contend. We whine sometimes.
I would give it away, and I don’t know what that makes me–less faithful? I am pondering and thinking and wondering and I don’t know the answer. I just know I would give it away.
What I do know is that while I don’t want it and would give it away, I am always, with every breath grateful that God’s grace is sufficient for even thorns in the flesh. Thorns that will never be removed, and that we don’t want. I know that He is aware of how much I don’t want this and He also knows that I praise Him anyway.
And, in spite of the pain and the agony and the fact that I can’t give it back–this experience–I will sing.
I will trust in His goodness and mercy when every molecule in my body still sears from her being ripped away from me…
I will praise His name forever, even though I hurt.
I guess that is the best I can do. I can also feel good about the fact that I really did like the quotable in her talk:
And I feel comforted that perhaps the reason something inside me rebels against my physical separation with Joy is just my conviction that, as President Uchtdorf said, I am “made up of the stuff of eternity. Endings are not my destiny…”