About a week or so ago, I wrote about spiritual preparaion. Strangely enough, four days later my younger, 18 year old brother, passed away suddenly.
He was hanging out with friends at a party. Things got a little out of hand, so he started to walk home with his girlfriend. He was only at the neighbor’s house when a friend pulled up. His girlfriend got in the car, and he jumped onto the back bumper to get a ride to his house. They were only yards away – but when they got into the driveway, the driver and my brother’s girlfriend noticed that Sean wasn’t on the car. It was strange.
They walked up the driveway, and found him on the ground. He had fallen of the car, apparently, and hit his head. He died almost immediately.
My brother had graduated only days before, and he was going to attend Villanova in the fall. He seemed to have his entire life ahead of him. And then, a week later, he was dead. Just like that.
I got the phone call Saturday morning, June 11, that my brother was on life support. He was brain-dead, but they were keeping his body alive so they could harvest his organs.
I have selected to be an organ donor, but prior to that phone call, I never had actually considered what it meant. I was sick to my stomach, thinking that he, my brother, would be harvested it seemed like there should be more sensitive words than that.
My brother is actually the son of my father and step-mother. They are not Mormon, neither are they religious. I love and respect my father, and had always hoped we’d have a chance to share the gospel with him, my brother, and my sister – all of whom do not have any religious inclinations.
As I sat in my room, thousands of miles away from my family, I prayed. As much as it hurt to hear of the misfortune my family had experienced, I was deeply comforted.
- One: I know what will happen with my brother. I know that he will be greeted by family that has passed on before him. I know that the end of his mortal life is not the end of his life.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to do the family history work for my dad’s side. As I mentioned earlier, he is not Mormon, so there was extensive work to do. I had the time, desire, and ability to do much of the work that needed to be done. I’m so grateful that the Lord enabled and inspired me to do this work. I was very comforted to know that, not only was there family ready to welcome Sean, but that they had the gospel, and that they would be able to teach the principles of the gospel to him.
I realized that if I hadn’t done the family history work, as we’ve been taught by the prophets, and as I had been prompted by the Spirit, then my brother would have been impacted. Even though I had never had the right opportunity to share the gospel with him, I was happy to know that I have been able to contribute to his gospel instruction in a way. I hope that he will begin to realize that I loved him, and I didn’t try to keep my testimony from him.
- Two: Because I have the gift of the Holy Ghost, I have the gift of the Comforter. It is really great to be living worthy of the Spirit – That means that I’m also living worthy of His comfort. I cannot imagine going through this family trial without the Spirit with me. This concept stressed to me the importance of spiritual preparation.
Comfort is an easy gift to take for granted. However, this scripture stands out to me:
“3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.” – Ether 15:3
This scripture refers to Coriantumr – who refused to follow the warnings of the prophet, Ether. He continued in wickedness – murdering and leading the people in wickedness. Over time, I suppose that such wickedness was beginning to wear on his soul. Many of his loved ones died. He began to “repent of the evil which he had done;…” I don’t know if this means that he repented in the sense that we consider repentance. In other words, I’m not sure he felt Godly sorrow, but he was feeling some kind of sorrow. He recognized that the prophecies of Ether and all of the prophets were coming true. This threw him into a pit of deeper despair.
Cortiantumr could not be comforted. He refused to be comforted – this was done through many actions of wickedness that led up to the point. Comfort is a gift from the Spirit. We cannot be comforted in sin.
As I sat and thought of my brother, and the overwhelming comfort I felt despite such a tragedy, I was struck by the simple miracle of comfort.
I do think that many people who have not been baptized also feel comfort – many people, even though they haven’t been baptized, still live lives worthy of occasional experiences with the Spirit. However, if we are baptized, and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and live worthy of such a gift, we have the promise of the Comforter being our constant companion. What a miracle.
The death of my brother has also made me realize that I another part of spiritual preparation is by loving others – having charity – and working hard on all of our relationships.
I was 14 years older than my brother. Most of my experiences with him happened in his first few years of life. He was a good kid. However, when I turned 18 and graduated from high school, I moved away – thousands of miles away – and have basically lived my own life ever since. I’d see him occasionally, but we had grown apart.
I always figured that we’d become better friends as he got older.
And now, I’ve missed that opportunity. I feel full of regret. I wish I had done more to stay closer to my brother. I wish that I hadn’t taken for granted the gift of life.
I am grateful that I’ve learned the lesson of treasuring family relationships. I wish I hadn’t learned it this way. However, I will always be grateful to Sean. I hope that he is in the Spirit world, meeting people who love him, learning the gospel, and progressing in his life.