Good morning, son! I just found out that earlier this morning, our sweet friend Millie joined the Heavenly ranks after her brave, valiant fight with cancer. Take care of our little Millie friend.
This morning as I was talking to you (I do that a lot, especially right in the middle of my prayers when I'm asking Heavenly Father to take care of you - I feel you standing there and get just a few brief moments to talk to you almost as if we were chatting online like we used to every day at lunch time and every night before bed - sounds crazy and logically makes no sense, but it happens!) you asked me again (as you had last night) if I was ready to help you with something big. I'm not sure what you have in mind, but I can guess it's something pretty amazing. I told you both times, and I'll tell you again, "I'll do my best."
We keep hearing stories of you being close and helping others. Dear friends that have read the entire Book of Mormon, started on your challenge. Another dear friend has had temple work completed for her husband. Friends hearts have been softened and friendships renewed. You have always had a great influence on those around you and you continue to bless us with your giving heart, your faith, your courage, and your love. I realize that until the eternities, we'll never know all of the ways that you've touched the lives of those that follow your story. Our greatest challenge is to continue to live in a way that keeps you close and will allow us to be our forever family.
Last week, your friend Caleb and his family stopped by with a CD - Face to Face, Kenneth Cope Collection. As we were visiting, Cathy shared the impression she'd had that she needed to bring me this CD. Once purchased, she was trying to figure out how to get it to our house. She found a paper on which you had written your name and address. That paper has to be at least 4 years old! Coincidence that she found it on the exact day she needed it? Not even close.
After they left, I immediately put the CD in and listened to it as I was cleaning. What a blessing and strength that CD has been over the past week! I listen to it when I clean, when I scrapbook, when I edit photos, when I cook. The first song is written by Chris Rice - Come to Jesus. Verses 2,4, and 6 are most meaningful to me right now...verses 2 and 6 as they relate to you, and 4 as that is sometimes the life we're living right now.
(2) Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain
So sing to Jesus - sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live
(4) Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain
Then cry to Jesus - cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live
(6) And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace and laugh on glory's side
And fly to Jesus - fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live
Yet as I listen to these lyrics, I am reminded that verse 2 is also very specific to the life I'm living right now. Many times, I have felt my burden be lifted. Sometimes through ways I could never describe, and other times through the kind and simple actions of others.
How grateful I am for friends that listen and act. That's what I'm working on also. That's what we pray for every night...opportunities to recognize a need, listen to a prompting, and then to move forward with love and give service in the ways most needed. I think sometimes we forget that we don't have to do grand and amazing things to bless those around us.
Sunday after church, a mother in our ward, another dear friend that has been struggling with immense burdens and challenges within her own family, stopped in the hall, looked me right in the eye, put her arms around me and hugged me tight, and walked away without a single word. No words were needed. The strength and love I felt from that simple service is exactly what I needed just then.
You, my boy, were always so good at these things. A hug, a smile, a note, a word of encouragement. Those were your trademark attributes. You didn't care what others might think, you just went about doing good, sharing the love of our Savior through your actions and the way you lived.
I remember one time, you must have been about 5...we were at the Black and White Days parade. There were a couple of elderly gentlemen seated next to where we were standing. You immediately made friends with them (they were loving your cowboy hat and boots!) and chatted with them until the parade started. As the parade progressed, you made sure that as candy was thrown, you had 4 pieces of each kind - one for McKayslin, one for each of the grandpas, and one for yourself. But if you only had 3, no big deal, you gave one to McKayslin, and one to each of the grandpas. That's always been one of my favorite memories of you. Thanks for teaching us how to love so freely.
Over the past week, several interesting (for lack of a better word) things have happened. I'm not one to ask for "signs" (especially after reading Alma 30 - the story of Korihor, lol). Nor do I need signs to know that you're okay. That being said, there are a few things that have happened that point directly to your closeness and the awareness you have of our struggles.
Friday marked the one year anniversary (uugggh, there needs to be a better word for that!) of diagnosis. Heather Mom coined the phrase MISSION CALL DAY which I will forever use instead of "anniversary of diagnosis." There is so much peace wrapped in the phrase MISSION CALL DAY. (And one day, when we finally get to hear your mission report, you're going to have the coolest stories to tell!!). Anyway, on the anniversary of your mission call day, feeling just a little sadder than normal, I stepped outside to get the mail, and was greeted by this:
This is the little yellow snappy-dragon [:)] that we bought for your grave a while ago. It bloomed really pretty for a while and then stopped. We brought it home the week after Memorial Day and it's been sitting on the steps looking sad and done for ever since. No sign of new growth at all. Friday morning I walk out and see one bright yellow blossom. Just one. Right above your smiley caterpillar from Mama Locco. Pretty incredible.
Also since Friday (I haven't been able to get a picture!), there has been a HUGE Monarch butterfly living in our tree. When we're outside (mostly when Dad and McKayslin are out there) it flies down and flits around them. I'm sure you're remembering last spring, the week before diagnosis, when that caterpillar that you and McKayslin had caught that had spent all winter in a cocoon in a bucket in our garage, finally emerged as a beautiful Monarch butterfly. Butterflies don't hang around our yard. Ever. Until this week. And it's only that one.
Then last night...we put McKayslin to bed and switched on her lava lamp...
That is your silhouette. Super awesome! All three of us looked at each other and just chuckled. We love and miss you so much! And while we won't ask for, or expect things like this to happen, we sure do love when they do. ;)
Before I go, I want to share the photo of you I found the other day. Nancy said it's her favorite of you because it is so exactly you. One thing I'll never regret is taking so many pictures. I know you guys often were sick of me and my camera, but you rarely complained. I do wish I had handed the camera over to Dad sometimes, so I was more present in the pictures. But I won't regret taking a bazillion photos. Ever.
Love you, my boy! And, yes, I'm ready to help you with something big. You just let me know what it is when you're ready. Keep being awesome. Keep working hard. We'll do the same here.
Sending you a big mom hug and a big mom kiss...
Love you LOVE YOU!