May 10, 2011-May 10, 2011
Daniel David (last name), infant son of David and Emily (last name) died peacefully in his parents’ arms Tuesday, May 10, 2011, at (hospital).
We were blessed with 32 precious minutes with Daniel before he returned to his Heavenly Father. He lived long enough for us to hold him and to share his perfect, peaceful spirit. We are comforted in knowing that his stay on this earth was filled entirely with love. We know the thoughts and prayers of our loved ones have carried us through this time.
As a family, we spent the months before Daniel’s arrival making memories with him, knowing his time here would be short. We took him to our favorite places with his big brother, Charlie, who loves his baby brother so much. Charlie gave his mama’s belly lots of hugs and kisses over those few months. Charlie enjoyed singing his ABCs and his favorite Primary songs to his baby brother. Daniel’s daddy spent many hours reading and singing his favorite comforting hymns to our sweet baby boy before his birth and during his time with us.
We look forward to the day when we can hold him in our arms again when we are reunited as an eternal family. We are thankful to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for allowing us to feel of the reality and power of his plan of happiness.
Daniel is survived by his parents; his big brother; and grandparents (listed).
I thank my Heavenly Father for entrusting me with all the knowledge, love, understanding, comfort, and grace my heart could possibly contain in these last four months. I thank my Heavenly Father for sending us Daniel.
Exactly ten years ago from this coming Monday, I wrote in my journal about my engagement to my dear Emily. Among other things, I noted: “Grandpa (last name)’s first comment upon meeting me was, ‘So, I hear you have big ideas.’” I wrote it then because it was funny. I write it now because it was inspired, if not somewhat prophetic.
I hope that is how every marriage begins. It is how ours started. Big ideas. Shooting for the stars. Knowing we could take on the world and all it could throw at us. Firmly, yet innocently, believing that together, and with God’s help, we had what it takes to withstand anything. He wanted us to succeed. We wanted to succeed. Therefore, we knew we would succeed. Emily even wrote this to me in a letter once, “I truly believe that you and I can make anything happen together.”
On that same day pondering our engagement, I wrote: “It’s interesting to see how everything in your world changes with the decision to get married. Of course, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
As time went on and we were blessed with parenthood, we began to wonder if we really could endure everything. Could we ever endure the loss of a child? Could we give up the aspect of this life that is most precious to us and brings us the most joy? How is it possible that parents can endure such pain and still be okay?
Now again, ten years later, we have reached a defining moment in our lives. Again, I say that everything in our world has changed. Again, I say that I wouldn’t want it any other way.
After hearing the news about this special boy, Emily remembers returning home and standing, pondering in our kitchen. Things looked different. She knew they would never be the same.
As we walked out of the hospital after the most difficult of our ultrasounds, I had an inspiring realization and testified to Emily that this is what life is about. It is hard. These are the trials and the growth that we must have to refine ourselves to become more like our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This is why marriage is central to the plan. Because the most difficult and painful trials come from having this type of heartache and soul searching. Those that are cheating their way through life without truly committing to spouse and family will never grow to be refined in this manner. This is our preparation for things to come.
This is why in Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord declares that the marriage covenant “was instituted for the fulness of my Glory.”
To paraphrase Elder Maxwell, long after the wars have ended and the chatter of congress has ceased, the great pyramids will have turned to sand and the everlasting family will still be standing.
The true history of mankind lies within the institution of celestial family.
This is what life, history, humanity, and divinity are about. We can do hard things. We must do hard things. This is enduring. I have often wondered what it is to truly endure to the end. Now I have an understanding.
My dear Emily. I will never view you the same way again. Everything has changed, and that includes the power, strength, luster, beauty and grace that have given rise within you. Starting on the night before our first revealing ultrasound when we were to find out if we would be blessed with a boy or a girl, when you prayed at our bedside; before we had received any news whatsoever, you wanted more than anything to pray that the ultrasound would go well, that there would be no concerns, that our little child would be completely healthy. But your mind was stayed. Even then, even before the earthly news was given, you were in tune with the will of the Lord. Again, on that next day when we were first given the hint of concern, your strength surpassed mine. You felt complete peace. You knew all would be well. As time went on, you made it clear how certainly you could feel the prayers of others carrying you on. You could feel it. I could see it. You were being lifted before my eyes.
I have always admired the words of righteous priesthood holders, advanced in age, about the divinity of their wives. I have always wondered how they could testify so convincingly of their wives’ superiority in spiritual matters and closeness to God. I have always loved the talk in which President Hinckley testified of the divine qualities of womanhood after his dear wife had passed away. I knew that they could see these things in their wives. Now I can understand, after a lifetime of such experiences as this, how that beauty and light becomes so bright. I can see it in you, Emily. As you carried Daniel’s perfect spirit, I could literally see you transforming and taking upon yourself qualities of our Heavenly Mother. As the days grew closer to his birth, there were moments that I was awed to be in your presence. On this sacred Mother’s Day, I believe I could see perfection within you if but for a moment.
Again, I have big ideas. With this experience and growth, I again believe we can make anything happen together. Together we can fulfill the promise in the Doctrine and Covenants, “and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.”
The blessings upon this family have been rich and bounteous.
Charlie. You have been bold, unyielding, and sure in your resolution that all is and will be well. You have helped your Mom and Dad with wisdom beyond your years. You have embraced the role of brother. You know and have testified to us of your brother’s special spirit and mission. Looking through what precious few keepsakes we have, you assured us that you could “remember Daniel before we had that.” You have testified to us of Christ’s atonement. Your pure faith echoes in my mind as you taught me to say out loud, “I’m okay, Jesus” and “I know this.”
As I admire the growth of my family, I know I have grown also. I have no ill feelings. I glory in the Lord’s mercy. My heart has become full and swells with love for my Heavenly Father and a greater sense of gratitude for the gift of His son to us. I may understand this now on a level I never previously could have comprehended.
The feelings, thoughts, and triumph of my soul are beyond the capacity of a creature of evolution or chance. I am a divine creation. We need only to look within ourselves and we will know there is a God. I have, perhaps, searched every corner of my heart and mind over the last four months. I have felt the lowest lows and the highest highs. I have felt complete agony so much that I writhed on the floor of our home racked with a greater pain and distress than I could have imagined possible. Only moments later I was convincingly stilled and infused with a peace and calm that was so majestic and noble in force that it was immovable and undeniable. I was cradled and held by a perfect love. I believe such can only be granted to a divine being. A child of God, as we all are. Those of you who know me well, know of my great love and compassion for animals. Yet I cannot believe that a simple beast or randomly evolved creature is worthy of such depth. I am a child of God. He lives and knows me. I know this now more than ever.
I know that Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice is real. We have felt it. This Easter season was the most memorable and meaningful of my life. We tested and proved the words of President Monson, “in our deepest sorrow, we can receive profound peace from the words of the angel that first Easter morning: ‘He is not here: for he is risen.’”
We have received that promised peace. And, as promised, Christ has sanctified to us our deepest distress. It is with joy, that we “draw water out of the wells of salvation.” We were held up when we could not walk by our own strength. We know of the reality and divinity of our Heavenly Father’s plan. We are thankful that the experience of bringing Daniel into this world is part of our mortal ministry and eternal calling. We are grateful in knowing that Daniel’s heart forever belongs to our Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus. We are grateful that he will never wander and is free from the troubles and imperfections of this world. We are grateful that he beckons us home.
We will never forget, as even the hospital staff emotionally confessed, the perfect, peaceful spirit that he shared with us. That short moment is forever imprinted on our hearts and we forever yearn to eternalize that glimpse by honoring our covenant marriage.
As I listened to the seconds ticking away in the wee hours of the morning before his birth, I remember wishing briefly that I could stop time. No more. Now when I hear a ticking clock, it is counting down the seconds till I can see him again. As Emily and I left for the hospital that sacred morning, I comforted her by promising that his life would be like a beautiful song. It was. And as we left several days later, that thought re-entered my mind. Yet this time, it was different. His song isn’t over. It goes on. And if we improve our hearing, we will still hear the notes from time to time. As my beloved mission president, D. Michael Stewart counseled, “We must improve our hearing.” I also remembered his counsel as we prepared to leave our hospital room, which had become our sanctuary. “After the wisemen met the Messiah, they went home a different way. Once you’ve met the Messiah and danced with the angels, go home a different way.”
We have danced with an angel. We have gone home a different way. Different people. Forever altered for the better. Again, I say that everything in our world has changed. Again, I say that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am forever thankful for Heavenly Father’s steady guidance and perfect knowledge in carefully yet deliberately shaping us and molding us to become more like Him and his Son.
Several years ago, I came across the words that President Joseph F. Smilth spoke to his dear young daughter, Jody, at her funeral. They moved me so deeply that I asked Emily to type them up and print them for display in our home. As we learned more of Daniel’s special mission on this earth, the words took new meaning to me. They became as if they were my own.
“Dear Jody, my babe, I love thee. My ambition is to see thee shine pure and bright amid Earth’s noblest. I love thine innocent prattle and thy little footsteps. Thy voice is as the music of an holy angel and thy cunning little ways more pleasant and endearing than the voice of love. Thou hast made me a better man. For thy sake I love humanity, Earth and Heaven more. Thou hast drawn me nearer unto God and purified my heart. For thy sake I beseech God with greater faith and fervor on behalf of all children and my sympathy is aroused more keenly for those bereaved. Thy bright spirit lightens all my cares and makes all Earth to me seem good. Oh, my darling, how I love thee.”
And now, my love overflows as I address my own son.
Daniel, we are happy for you, son. We do rejoice in your triumph. You have inspired change. You have made us better. Our hearts ache but they are strengthened and beat more purely. Our minds grieve but they are determined and resolved as we focus more intently on attaining eternal unity. You have allowed us to feel a glimpse of what our Heavenly Father and Mother felt as they gave up their beloved Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. You have taught us the unassailable power of sacrificing our wills only to be enveloped by pure love and sweet assurance as we accept our Heavenly Father’s. You have helped us grow first in having faith and then to tangibly feeling faith in Christ’s Atonement. As we have searched our souls, you have given us the hope of our own divinity. You have shown us so clearly that there is more. We promise to remember. We promise to do our best to see you shine again. We love you ever so dearly.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.