After the emotional devastation following the death of her brother, this LDS woman found an unexpected miracle through the Atonement of Christ and healing in the birth of her daughter.
Death. Infertility. Miscarriage. Loss of a child. Depression. Cancer. Divorce. Unmarried. Abuse. Disabilities. Anxiety. A child who strays. Job loss. Financial burden. Poor health. Obesity. Marital Problems. Betrayal. Physical pain. Losing the faith. Suicidal thoughts. Infidelity. Illness. Brain damage. Stroke. Addiction. Widowed/Widower. Failure.
Every word listed above affects people who are dear friends to me—people who are close to my heart. I am sure many of you could say the same. Unsurprisingly, most of us have had first-hand experience with something on that list, including me. Life brings sorrows, pains, and trials that test us to the very core. Each trial varies in its difficulty; nevertheless, each brings unique suffering and struggle to the receiver. Five years ago, I experienced my own devastating trial.
The Phone Call
I will never forget it—that awful phone call. It was a typical June day, hanging out with my cute toddler in our little apartment. The scorching, humid weather of northern Virginia kept us inside, especially because I was 38 weeks pregnant with my second child. My cell rang and I answered to my sister, Sydnie. She said I needed to pray for KJ, our 16-year-old brother. She didn’t have any specific details yet, but she knew it involved a waterfall at Boy Scout Camp, and KJ needed to be life-flighted.
After I hung up, my heart and mind raced. Maybe KJ was in a hospital with a flurry of doctors surrounding him? Did he hit his head? Break a bone? Was he paralyzed? Possible brain damage? I earnestly prayed that his injuries were minimal. When could I talk to him? I hoped it wouldn’t be long. I imagined sitting next to his hospital bed while he told me his story. What a crazy story he would have to tell! I then wondered if his injuries would affect his sports. I continued to create scenarios of his condition, but I honestly never imagined what I was told when Sydnie called again. She was crying, “KJ is dead.”
Those horrible words caught me completely off guard. I cried out in pure panic and asked hysterically, “How do you know? How do you know?! Did a doctor give up on him? Wasn’t there a way to revive him? Who made the call to quit trying?” My sister didn’t have any answers, but she knew he was for sure, gone. I collapsed on my couch, shaking and sobbing. My little brother was dead, and there was nothing I could do to change that. The next slap in the face came when it dawned on me—I couldn’t go to his funeral. Because I was so far along in my pregnancy, I couldn’t fly out to Utah. I couldn’t go see him one last time. I couldn’t be with my family and grieve. These realizations further stabbed my already broken heart.
The following days were very, very dark for me; days that I don’t like to remember. My world was shattered and I was about to have a baby. My sweet husband took over all of my “mom duties,” while in the meantime, I crawled into a hole of grief and pain. Oh, how I missed my brother! I hated that the last time I saw him was during Christmastime (six months before his death). I wanted so badly to be with my family and attend his funeral.
Generally, I am a happy and outgoing person. But during those dark days, I felt totally the opposite—sad and introverted. If a visitor came, I pretended to be taking a nap in my room—making myself unavailable. I attended church sacrament meeting and left during the closing prayer so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. If I had to leave the apartment, I saw the world in numbness. I honestly wondered if I would ever be happy again. I didn’t smile. If someone called or texted, I didn’t respond.
To make matters worse, I begged and pleaded to the Lord for help—but, to no avail. I did NOT want to be feeling so depressed; yet, no matter how hard I prayed, I felt completely alone and filled with pain. It was as if the Lord had abandoned me. I’ve never felt so alone.
I Couldn't See His Hand, but I Trusted He Was There
How would I be able to mother two children in such a terrible condition? I was barely keeping up with my toddler. I felt awfully weak and lifeless, how could I deliver a baby? Even though these fearful questions crossed my mind, I chose to cling to my faith. Past experience taught me to, “trust in the Lord with all thine heart (Proverbs 3:5),” and so I did. Please Heavenly Father, provide a way because I definitely can’t see it. Please help me. My unwanted feelings of solitude remained, but thank goodness I didn’t give up.
When we face such despairing moments, Dieter F. Uchtdorf offers this beautiful counsel:
“And to all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely—I say with love and deep concern for you, never give in. Never surrender. Never allow despair to overcome your spirit. Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart.”
Similarly, David S. Baxter teaches:
“At these moments of crisis and challenge, some choose to abandon faith just at the time when it most needs to be embraced. Prayer is ignored at the very hour when it needs to be intensified. Virtue is carelessly tossed aside when it needs to be cherished. God is forsaken in the all-too-human yet mistaken fear that He has forsaken us…The truth is that our only safety, our only security, our only hope is to hold fast to that which is good. As the mists of darkness gather around us, we are only lost if we choose to let go of the iron rod.”
What a blessing to know that the Son of God pierces all darkness and softens all sorrows! In moments of crisis, we must embrace our faith in Christ, even if we can’t see the end from the beginning. As I suffered the loss of my brother, I am so grateful that I relied upon my Savior. I clung to the iron rod and prayed earnestly. I held on to the only One who had the power of deliverance, even Jesus Christ. I could not see His hand, but I trusted He was there.
The night before KJ's funeral, I was restless and couldn’t sleep. The truth is I hadn’t slept much in the last four days. I felt beyond tired and extremely depleted. My head hurt from all the tears, and my eyes were practically swollen shut. I tossed and turned, until suddenly, (at roughly 2 a.m.) I felt a contraction. Could this be it? I moved around the apartment and felt another contraction. Was my baby girl coming?