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Listen: Latter-day Saint wife and mother shares beautiful final testimony before passing away

by | Jan. 09, 2021

Of this week’s All In podcast, host Morgan Jones wrote the following: 

"On December 16, 2020, I interviewed Rebecca Hirschi for this week’s podcast. I knew going into the interview that it would be unlike any interview I had ever done. I have interviewed people who were sick before, but Rebecca had been placed on hospice and knew she likely only had 2–3 months left to live. Throughout the entire interview, I thought of what an honor it was to interview someone who was so close to heaven—someone who would soon have a conversation, one I imagine to be similar to the one we were having, with our Heavenly Father. I just didn’t know that conversation might take place before anyone else heard our interview. 

"On January 3, 2021, Rebecca passed from this life to the next. As Latter-day Saints, we believe that “the spirits of all men . . . are taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11). Rebecca spoke in our interview of her love for home, and it is my belief that she is home in the truest sense of the word. She has returned to the God she trusted in her entire life, and I consider it a great honor to have had the chance to speak with her and to share her goodness with you.

"I hope you will join me in praying for the Hirschi family at this time, and that in honor of Rebecca, as you enter this New Year, you will take the time to really listen to your children or your husband. Instead of worrying about the dishes in the sink, do as she suggests and go throw a football with your son in the backyard, or go get ice cream. Live every day knowing what a gift it is to be alive."

This excerpt includes just the final portion of Rebecca’s episode. You can listen to the episode in full here or in the player below.

Morgan Jones: Rebecca, you wrote on social media, “The emotional challenges of terminal illness are many. But in some ways, these challenges are true for everyone on earth. Not one single person really knows how much longer they have to live. We will all die, and so the real questions become, ‘How do you live? What things become most important? How do you spend each day?’ I am truly grateful for this cancer because it has caused me to take a long, hard look at myself and savor moments and days like I never have before. That is a great blessing. My views of eternity and the life beyond has become so clear and I know—really know—that there is life after death, that knowledge shapes everything.”

Rebecca, I wondered, this episode will air in the New Year and I think it's an appropriate time to think about how are we living our lives and how do we want to be different? I think it's a time for renewal. And for you, as you approach the end of one season of your eternity and approach a new season, how does this experience change the way that you are living and what do you wish each of us better understood about the gift of life and mortality?

Rebecca Hirschi: Life is so, so short. I think it has really brought so much into focus. Having this these past couple years, I just see so much more clearly, the tiny, tiny moments are really what matters. The little tiny interactions, the chance to just look in somebody's eyes and just see them. I think mindfulness is kind of the catchphrase that a lot of people use nowadays, but truly, I think that's been one of the greatest blessings of this cancer diagnosis, to just really be able to savor and take a look at how do I spend my time, and where is it most critical?

And I find that as I do that, I often do things differently than I maybe naturally would have before. And I really appreciated that shift in me personally—that taking the time to really listen to my children or my husband. And you know, instead of worrying about the dishes in the sink, I'll throw a football with my son in the backyard, or ‘Let's go get ice cream,’ you know? Or whatever it is, some of these things that you can't get back, and I feel incredibly grateful that I've had this time and this perspective because so many times there [are] accidents where people are taken quickly and that is gone. And so I just think that today, the eternal today is what really becomes the focus . . . that each and every day, and the moments within each day, can be lived to its fullest. And that, to me, has been a great gift.

Morgan Jones: That's so well said. One thing that struck me before we get to our last question. . . . Your “cancer scripture” is the scripture found in Isaiah that says, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator, the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31).

Rebecca, why is that scripture significant for you? And how has it carried you through your journey with cancer? I love, by the way, that you have a cancer scripture. I think that's so cool.

Rebecca Hirschi: I love that scripture. That is one of my all-time favorites. It really has been true. I, you know, time and time again, I've come to my knees and I'm sure time and time again I will, as you know, maybe the pain is too much, or the emotional struggle is too much. And I cry out and somehow the Lord, He really does, He just comes in and just lifts me in a very real way, and it is like being on the wings of eagles. That doesn't necessarily mean that physical healing happens, but that spiritually and emotionally I am lifted beyond anything I can . . .  it's really difficult to describe, but I absolutely 100 percent know that whenever we turn even the smallest amount of our hearts to Him, He's there to lift us, and give us strength, and to help us in whatever the challenge, whatever it is. Even, you know, small things where I want to be able to be more loving, or I don't want to be without the Spirit in a situation, or whatever it is—that if I lend my mind and my heart to the Lord, that He gives me strength beyond. And I really feel that, particularly now, that He gives power to the faint. He increases strength. I really felt that as my physical strength is waning, that the Lord gives me the ability to keep moving forward and I just pray for the ability to not shrink and move forward with bravery and courage.

Morgan Jones: Thank you so much. Rebecca, I was struck by something that you said earlier in our interview—almost in passing—you mentioned that you could feel your efforts for breath, and that you could feel the need for more air, and it reminded me of the book—I don't know if you've read it, but it was When Breath Becomes Air. It's so good, it's one of the best books I've ever read. And I just think there are so many wonderful things that he says in that book. But one of the things that I feel like applies to what you've shared with us today is he said, “There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.” And so, I want to thank you for sharing this moment with us and for your example of faithfulness and goodness and enduring to the end. And I just have one last question for you, and that is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Rebecca Hirschi: I love that question. I think for me, I need my Savior, each and every day. He is the center. I need Him every single second of every day. I can't, I really can't do life without Him. I really found that and it's hard to describe, but Christ is the center and for me to be all in, He needs to be the center of my life. And I’ve found that with Him, I can do so much more than without. I'm truly grateful that He allows me to just have Him be the center and helps me in so many ways. And that, to me, is really living, is to live with Him fully, 100 percent each and every day. And I'm not perfect at it. But I'm so grateful that He lets me try.

Lead Image: Courtesy of Emma Lowe
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