It was my brother’s birthday Friday.
The crazy thing about this birthday is that we are all “celebrating” it without him. Okay, it isn’t as much of a celebration as it is a remembrance.
For my brother’s birthday, I sent a text to each of my siblings – saying that I love them. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but for our family it is a lot. The more time passes, the stranger it seems that Sean is passed on.
However, I’m so grateful, still for the gospel. Often, people ask me how I’m “dealing” with Sean’s passing. It is strange to think about, sure, but I feel like I’m okay. Here’s a list of three things I’ve been thinking about…
- Gratitude – I know where Sean is, and I know that I’ll see him again. I know that Christ made this all possible. We learn from the Book of Mormon
“And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.
But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.” – Mosiah 16:7-8
- Regret – Okay – so my parents were divorced when I was ten. Then my dad remarried another woman. They had two more children. Sean is the first son of my dad’s second marriage. We all have always been close, and I consider Sean my brother, but he was raised a little differently than I was. He was not raised with any religion.
Often, I would think to myself that I needed to share the gospel with my little brother and sister. I would have this thought – What will I say to them later – when we have finished our mortal probations – if they ask me why I didn’t share the gospel with them? That thought haunted me. I didn’t know how to share the gospel with them, yet I felt mortified that they would live their lives, and I’d live mine – without ever sharing the gospel.
Well, this is exactly what happened. I’m not even sure if Sean knew that I was a Mormon or much about that. It never came up. I’d go to church, but I am so much older, and I always lived so far away, it wasn’t something that he ever really witnessed.
So – there is a little regret, that I didn’t share the gospel with him. I regret that I wasn’t closer to him. I really wish that I had done things a little differently. Even if I didn’t have the chance to share the gospel, I wish I had been close enough for him to know that I had faith – I wish I had been close enough to him for him to see how faith had affected my life.
- Hope – even though I feel regret – that I wasn’t closer to my brother, and that I didn’t share the gospel with Him, I’m surprised because I feel filled with hope.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of family history work. My dad is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so, naturally, there was quite a bit of family history and temple work to do. About 9-10 years ago, I was prompted to start doing it. So I did.
I have experienced many miracles in doing family history work. While I don’t know which family members of mine have accepted the gospel, I know that there are souls who not only accepted it, but have prayed that I would get around to performing these sacred ordinances for them. I know that they were ready long before I was.
When Sean passed, as much as I felt regret and grief, almost instantly, when I knelt to pray, I was filled with relief and hope. I was comforted. I realized that because ordinances had been performed for my ancestors, Sean’s ancestors, he was not alone in the Spirit world, but had been welcomed by his own family. I know that he is now learning about the gospel, and maybe he’s being taught by someone who he is related to! (See Doctrine and Covenants 138:29-32)
I realized that he was learning, and that even though I never had the chance to share the gospel with my brother, I didn’t leave him hanging. I’m grateful that the Lord gave me the opportunity to do family history and temple work for my family. I know that they are teaching him what I never had the chance to say. I know that these ancestors pray for each of us – their descendants; their hearts are turned to their children.
These things: Gratitude, Regret, and Hope have all helped me to be a little bit more resolved – to be a better Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Granddaughter, etc. Our families are so important. Why is it so easy to forget this?! I am committed to changing – and being better. I know that I can make sure Sean’s life and death wasn’t meaningless if I truly learn from this experience. So, while I’m not really making a ton of improvement, I’m trying – little texts, messages on fb, care packages, and above all – prayers. I’m trying to be more forgiving and less judgmental.
What are some things that you do to be a better “family member”?