This story was originally published on tofw.com and is published on LDS Living with TOFW's permission.
Three years ago, I read a talk by Sister Wendy Watson Nelson titled, “How Angels Can Help Us More in Our Lives.”
That talk started a yearlong study on the subject of angels. That study, coupled with the fact that I had, on several occasions, felt my great-grandmother with me, solidified my testimony that we are indeed surrounded by people who love us and are here to help and comfort us. I came to know this so deeply that I even co-wrote a song about the undeniable presence of angels.
So you can imagine what my expectations were when my mom suddenly died eight months ago.
Shortly after her death, I heard mixed stories about people who felt their loved ones near. Some said they felt their loved ones right away. Some said it took a couple days. A few told me it took over a year. And some said they never felt their loved ones near. “Not me,” I thought. I would feel my mother when we saw her for the first time at the viewing, the funeral, or maybe during the temple session we attended two days after she died.
When that didn’t happen, I expected her to be with me during school plays, during the birth of her two new grandsons, during a surgery my dad had scheduled shortly after her funeral. But I have never felt her near me. So many nights I cried for her, desperate for her advice on raising teenagers and telling me it’s OK to not love the 3-year-old phase. But it’s only been silence.
A few months ago, I was so frustrated with this distance and I cried out loud to Heavenly Father, “Why? Why did you have me study angels for so long, why have you allowed me to feel other angels in my life, BUT NOT MY MOM?”
My answer came in one of the clearest moments I’ve had in my life: “I had you study so you would know it’s true—you would know she’s with you—even when you don’t feel her.”
Instantly, tears came to my eyes. Yes. I knew it was true. I knew angels are around us, and those angels are our family and friends. I knew they hurt when we hurt and feel joy when we feel joy. I knew they love us now more than they did while they were with us on earth. I knew they are fully invested in their family, and that death is not the end of this eternal and beautiful chain.
As I’ve looked back over the last 8 months, I now recognize my mother was reaching out to me in other ways. There were mornings I would wake up, knowing the day would be hard for no reason, and I would get extra texts or visits. Gifts, with inspired stories behind them, would come during moments when I was hurting most. My mom was always good with people, and she knows I love my support group, so it makes sense she would use them! My kids have felt her at school or while with friends. That has brought me so much peace. Where else would I have her be but with them?
Elder James E. Talmage said, “Do we realize that in our daily walk and work we are not alone, but that angels attend us wherever our duty causes us to go?” You are surrounded by angels. You may not feel them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not close by. Your ability to feel them has nothing to do with your worthiness or level of righteousness. They may be trying to reach you in ways you don’t expect. Pray to recognize them, and trust they are there, even when you can’t feel them.
Check out Mercy River's incredible 5-Minute Fireside about angels below!
All images courtesy Whitney Permann