It is a shame to say that I do not have many memories with my grandpa. Since the time I can remember, he had always been confined to a bed because of his multiple health problems. Being one of the youngest children in my family, I did not experience those times when Grandpa was young and healthy.
As a little girl, whenever we went to visit my grandparents I would run to the little room by my grandpa’s bedroom and watch cartoons with my brother. The only entertainment in my grandpa’s room was listening to the radio. There were several times I thought it must be lonely to be in that room by himself. However, I shied away from the thought of going into his room and talking to this person I hardly knew or interacted with.
On his last birthday, all the family gathered around his bed to celebrate. As we sang the “Happy Birthday” song, my dad asked me to hold grandpa’s hand. I awkwardly stretched my hand to his. His hand was warm and I was surprised by his strength. It was hard to let go at the end of the birthday song.
As his health declined and he was put into the hospital, I started to feel guilty about not spending more time with my grandpa. At this point, he was not conscious and the doctors were counting down the time he had on this earth.
One night, I lay on my bed and offered a silent prayer to God, asking Him to let my grandpa live longer. I prayed that I could have more time to spend with him, and I told God if I could have another chance, I would do anything to get to know my grandpa and make him feel loved. After the prayer, tears kept dropping from my eyes. Until this point, I had never encountered any spiritual experiences in my life. I didn’t know why I was crying, but for some reason, I felt God was hearing my prayer.
The next day, I was at school when my mom texted me saying Grandpa just passed away. My heart sank. I quickly explained my situation to my teacher and ran to the hospital. When I got there, my family surrounded my grandpa’s hospital bed, and my two aunts suggested singing hymns together because that was what my grandpa loved the most when he was alive—hearing his family singing hymns together.
I was confused why my prayer hadn’t been answered. At that time, I wasn’t sure why God didn’t grant me my righteous desire, but at the same time, I didn’t know what else I could have done.
My family held the funeral at the chapel. Grandpa was a principal of a school for many years. The chapel was filled with his students and people who knew and admired him. Almost everyone could name one or two memories they had shared with Grandpa. Here I was, sitting in the chapel, not knowing much about him.
Three months later, my aunt passed away from breast cancer. At this point, I wanted to know. More accurately, I needed to know if there really is a life after death. I needed to know whether the faith I believe in is real or illusion. I prayed to God that somehow I would know my grandpa and my aunt were alright. I didn’t know how He was going to answer my question or if He was listening.
Three months later, I was at a youth conference. At the end of the conference, all the youth stood together and sang, “We’ll Bring the World His Truth.” The Spirit was strong and suddenly I heard a distinct voice come to my mind: “Your grandpa and aunt are here with me. They are well and okay.” I was surprised by the voice, and I started to cry. Although doubt told me that voice was simply made up, I cast that doubt away. I knew that was the voice of the Lord answering my prayer. Since then, I know that everything is going to be okay. Although I didn’t have time in this life to get to know my grandpa, I know after this life I will have eternity to spend with him and get to know him.
This experience helped me gain a testimony of the gospel and inspired me to serve a mission years later. To me, it is interesting to know that God didn’t answer my prayer when I desperately needed it; instead, He waited until I was spiritually strong enough to receive the answer. If the answer had come right away, I would not have believed that the answer was the voice of the Lord. I had to wait to be spiritually ready to receive my answer. In Ether 12:27 it reads, “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”
If I had never experienced the death of loved ones, I would never have come to a better understanding of God’s love for His children and how important family is to me. Heavenly Father knows us so well that He knows what circumstances and timing would be best for us to learn from our experiences so that we can appreciate the most important things in our lives. Now I see that when I first prayed to God to let my grandpa live longer, it was just a beginning to gaining my testimony. The fact that God sent the Spirit to me while I was weeping shows that He cares about my pain and my desire. God desperately wanted me to know that He is there. He is listening. He has a plan for me—even if that plan meant losing my grandpa.
There will always be something in our paths that are hard and unpleasant. But I believe God always provides a way for us to receive comfort from Him. From my experience, the answer or the comfort usually doesn’t come at the time that we ask; instead, God waits until we are ready to receive the answer. Then He will unselfishly pour out His heavenly blessings on us.