Living a Staggering Life

I have been really pensive lately. Being sick and surrounded by a lot of tough situations will do that to you. Last year, when my childhood friend Nalene passed away unexpectedly, it opened my eyes to just how precious and fleeting life really is.

Last month, I sat by the bedside of an elderly widow in our ward who has become a beloved part of our family. The end was near–I could feel it and though she couldn’t voice it, she knew it. The next day, she passed away and at her funeral, I marveled at this thing called mortality that we too-often take for granted.

Magical= 12 nests in one cluster of trees

Last week, I stumbled upon this quote:

“I think life is staggering and we’re just getting used to it. We are all like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we’re given–it’s just another sunset, just another rainstorm moving in over the mountain, just another child being born, just another funeral.” -Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Mother-son adventures last weekend in Evergreen. Everest or Bust.

When I was 21, I served an 18-month mission for the LDS Church in Switzerland and France. I felt like I was Belle from Beauty in the Beast and was absolutely captivated with each person I taught (and who taught me) and every Swiss village or mountain I climbed in the Alps. I was living a dream and I knew it.

My first area was Bienne, a small city in the Three-Lakes region in Switzerland that had a half-French, half-German population. I was a couple of months into my mission when my trainer was transferred and I received another companion–one who’d be going home in four short weeks. I couldn’t wait to show her our favorite haunts. As I pointed out the town patisserie oozing with the fragrance of pain au chocolat, we wound around the ville’s cobblestone streets with bursting fountains, vine-covered stone walls and statues tucked into nooks in the walls.

“Isn’t this amazing?” I raved.
“Not really. I’ve been in Europe for 17 months and if you’ve seen one French village, you’ve seen them all,” she said, boredom in her voice.

Even today, I’m still blown away by her statement but she never let herself just be happy and live in the moment. And I can’t help but wonder if she has lived a mediocre life because she felt like she was surrounded by mediocrity.

Taking flight in Evergreen. #Joy

I’m flying home to Canada today to help with my mom. As some of you know, she took a turn for the worse before Christmas and has been regularly hospitalized. She was released last week but her battle is not over–in fact, it’s heating up as she wages this 25-year war with a body that is ravaged and broken by MS.

A Colorado woman whom I admire for her joie de vivre recently sold her bike shop with the intention of becoming digital nomads and working remotely around the world with their young family. Their journey had only recently begun in Mexico but then she posted on Facebook last weekend that her 2-year-old son drowned while under a babysitter’s care. This one hit home because it is a secret dream of mine to take my family, work remotely and just travel. Not only was this the death of their dream but the loss of a child is exponentially worse.

Another friend posted that an ill young boy who captivated the hearts of his native Utah and the world lost his battle. While reading Mitchell’s Journey, I was so inspired by this family who can see beyond their current pain and suffering.

…….. Somewhere on the other side of this hell is the Heavenly promise of peace and reunion – but that’s a lifetime away and [learning to cope with] death and separation from our young boy who [wanted] so much to live, cuts us deeply. It’s easy to talk of God and life after death in Sunday school, but to come face to face with it is breathtaking.

But alas, we are grateful to know there is life after life … and we have seen tender mercies in our family, even in the midst of our pain. While there are many today who have abandoned belief in God, we stand resolute … with an absolute knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We have seen Him work in our lives; warning us, preparing us, and lifting us when we hardly have the strength to stand. We remain grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and its healing, transcendent power. As C.S. Lewis once said of suffering, “Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even [agony] into [glory].” This we know.

As we process all that is happening and the tender pains of losing our precious child, we have felt a quiet whisper that Mitchell was never really ours in the first place, but he is on loan to us from the Father of us all. He, like each of us, will return to Heavenly Father with a perfectly executed life experience filled with hardship and happiness; all designed to refine our souls for greater purposes.

Our chilly Sunday bike ride at dusk.

“Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even [agony] into [glory].”

Life is a miracle. And I’m so grateful for the one I’ve been given.

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