I remember sitting near the back of the completely filled Stake Center at President Allred's son Eric's funeral. President Allred had been our home teacher and Bishop for most of my childhood and he was someone I really looked up to; someone who just made you feel closer to the Savior by being with him. President Allred's sons had been in a fourwheeling accident. Eric had died, Kelly had lived. During his talk at the funeral, President Allred described something that impressed on my mind in a powerful way. He told of the days in the hospital where Kelly was learning to walk and move and function again. He had to undergo physical therapy in which the doctors would painstakingly stretch the muscles in his arms and legs. If Kelly wanted to walk again and be able to progress, those muscles needed to be stretched. President Allred described how he would stand by his sons side as he would scream out in pain, begging his dad to make them stop the stretching. And though it was breaking his heart to see his son suffer and endure so much pain, he knew that Kelly needed the stretching; that after all the pain of the stretching had ended Kelly would become so much stronger; able to walk and run.
June has been that kind of month. Stretching; painful stretching.
Chad's dad died suddenly and unexpectedly on June 13th. He was only 54. The day started out like any other Sunday morning. I was getting Emyri and I ready for church while Brin and Chad were taking a nap. Then Chad got the phone call. I will never forget the look on Chad's face when he told me the news. It breaks my heart just thinking about it. Nor will I forget the way my heart sank with the shock. It was unreal.
Brinley awoke from her nap at the same time. I don't even remember getting her out of her crib, but I must have. She was walking around calling something out, but amidst all the emotion and holding each other we didn't notice for a moment just what she was saying. Oddly enough however, when we were able to focus in on her we realized she was walking around calling out, "Papa, Papa."
I honestly think Brinley could sense him or feel him there somehow. Maybe Chad's dad came to be with him when he heard the news.
We sat down and explained things to Emyri. She seemed confused. When we explained that we needed to pack to go home she burst into tears and said she didn't want to leave her friends and her toys. She cried and wanted to bring everything with her. I think she was feeling that if she left something or someone behind that she really loved she might not see them again; they might be gone. She'd spent a few days with Papa the week before while we were on vacation; and now he was gone.
Packing was a blur, but somehow Chad thought to get all of the pictures of his dad that he could from our computer. It was neat, because they ended up using a lot of the pictures he brought for the funeral and the casket. Before we walked out the door my eye caught the box full of Chad's family home videos that we'd ironically been watching the week before. I quickly picked them up. We ended up watching them with his family in the week that followed. I'm glad we had them.
I don't know how to exactly describe it. The ride home was deep and thick, but it was also sacred. We talked and cried and prayed and thought and listened and held on tight to one another.
When we got to SV we were able to go to the hospital where Chad's dad was. He'd gone in that morning with some back pain. They started running tests and couldn't find anything. The pain had even stopped and Chad's dad said he must have been a baby for even coming in. He was in mid sentence when he suddenly took in a deep breath, had a small seizure, and his heart stopped. They instantly began working on him, trying and trying to restart his heart. They tried for an hour, but he was gone.
I can't really put into words how it was to be there in that little hospital room with his dad and family, and even though it was so hard it was also helpful and healing. Somehow it helped to be there together, to share in the feelings and thoughts and pain.
It's also hard to explain how it feels to watch the person you love with all that you are mourn and hurt in ways they never have before. It tears you up inside and aches and you just want to do something to take it all away, but all you can do is be there to hold them and love them and cry with them. Oh how I love Chad. I honestly cannot say how much I love him.
I have to say though, our shared experience and the new road we have traveled has only deepened and heightened all that was us before. I love Chad with an even greater depth and in ways I couldn't without walking with him through this. It's indescribable and real. And the ways we are growing and the understanding we are gaining is also very real and so so meaningful.
And I know Heavenly Father knew this. We call out, "Please Father, stop the stretching. It hurts so much." And though it's breaking His heart, He knows all we will have become and the new levels we will reach when all the pain has gone. I know He can take something so difficult and bad and make it something good.
I know He loves us perfectly. He loves us perfectly enough to not take away all of our pains and trails because He knows there is purpose in that pain. He knows all we can become if we will come to Him with it. I trust Him with all that I am.
He and the Savior understand all of our pain, every ounce and every tear. They are right there and They're not going anywhere.
On Monday evening, Chad and I sat outside his house while we waited for Emyri and Brinley to come back from their walk with Grandma Teresa. We both sat there silently and I looked up at the clouds. And this time I really looked at them and it felt like I hadn't seen them in a long time. As I watched them roll and move I felt even more poignantly then before that heaven really is so so near.
I believe. With all my heart I believe.