A couple of months ago Maren's physical therapist came down with Lymes Disease (yeah, random). She's back now, but we had a temporary therapist coming to the house while Maren's regular therapist was sick. During the first or second visit with the new therapist I must have said or hinted to the fact that I was a little discouraged that Maren wasn't progressing as quickly as I had hoped she would. I said something like, "Sometimes I wonder if she'll ever walk!" I know, it sounds terrible, but it's hard sometimes to see other kids her age or have random people in the grocery store casually ask, "How old is she?" Followed by, "Is she walking yet?" What am I supposed to say? "No, her heart is effed up and she was in the hospital for 6 months during her first year of life and we'll be lucky if she's crawling before she's two..."
I'm divulging a lot, but from the moment that Maren was diagnosed I could not stop thinking about her death. It was a constant worry. Oddly enough I wasn't so worried that first year when she was in the hospital for what seemed like forever. It was after the Norwood, after the Glenn, and after those stupid effusions that took forever to clear up. The worst was after all of that craziness when Maren was home and I was finally able to think about months and years ahead rather than a minute, an hour, or a day ahead. I was really scared. I cringed at the thought of every milestone-- birthdays, first step, first word, first day of school, first date, marriage, children... all of that was clouded by my fear of her dying. How long would she last? How would she die? Would she die in my arms at the hospital or during surgery? Where would we bury her? I KNOW, it's horrible!
Anyway, Connie, the new physical therapist, said something that has seriously changed my entire perspective on Maren. She said, "It's not a matter of if she'll walk, but when. I've been told this exact thing many times before in many different words, but this time I believed it. This time I heard it from an eternal perspective.
I thought about this last general conference. I thought specifically about President Monson's talk and Elder Scott's talk. There were others with similar messages, but these two talks stick out in my mind.
Elder Scott shared the terrible experience of he and his wife dealing with the loss of their new born daughter only six weeks before his young son died following an open heart operation. Elder Scott explains that, "Later, during the night, I embraced my wife and said to her, 'We do not need to worry, because our children were born in the covenant. We have the assurance that we will have them with us in the future. Now we have a reason to live extremely well. We have a son and a daughter who have qualified to go to the celestial kingdom because they died before the age of eight.' That knowledge has given us great comfort. We rejoice in the knowledge that all seven of our children are sealed to us for time and all eternity."
President Monson shared stories with similar conclusions.
I have thought much about Connie's statement-- "It's not a matter of if, but when." I am no longer weighed down with the fear of Maren dying. Whether in this life or the next, Maren will reach all of her milestones; it's just a matter of when.
I am grateful for covenants Randy and I have made in the temple. I am grateful for the priesthood that allows our family to be together forever. I am grateful for the atonement. I am grateful for my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the comfort that it brings me.
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