The time flew, and before I knew it I had risen from my seat and was standing before this group of people, willing for something my mother would enjoy to come out of my mouth. I remember thinking how somber the day was, as funerals usually go, and remembering that somber was not a word I normally would associate with my mother, ever. I had come prepared with one thing, a story, one that I hoped would make people laugh and lighten the mood. I clung to every chuckle, every smiling face as I told my story and relieved a tender memory of my mom. Before I knew it, the story was over and I was searching my soul for the words to say. I bore my testimony, I bore my thankfulness that I had a mother who understood what life was about, who loved and respected God, and who knew the greatest gift-undoubtably the greatest gift she could give her daughters was to make sure they knew who God was. Not just some mystical being that was a nice after-thought, but knew that who God was in every sense, and knew we were daughters of his and what he needed us to do for him in this life. I left the funeral that day peaceful, reminiscent, relieved, and eternally grateful for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the peace the teachings of God gave my family.
Two weeks later I attended church services at my student Young Single Adult ward. I sat in the congregation, aware of every person around me, but trying to pretend I was utterly alone. I was broken, hurt, confused, scared out of my mind, and feeling cut off.
I listened to the service, willing my mind to relax so my soul could receive the peace it so desperately screamed for.
I remembered how much peace I used to get from my faith, religion, and worshipping services. I longed for that peace, for the reassurance I wasn’t alone at all. I was frustrated with myself and with, although I hate to admit it, God. I knew it was wrong of me to feel this way, but I couldn’t help but entertain the thought that God had killed my mother. I had prayed for years that her cancer would be taken away, that she would be healed, that she would be allowed to continue her mission on this earth. Surely she had more here to do, even if that meant the one thing left was be a mother to my sister and I.
I felt guilty, and abandoned. I knew I shouldn’t be mad at God, but I just couldn’t help it. In a sense, I felt like he had killed my mother and questioned why we were being punished? Had we been too prideful? Had I not taken the church seriously enough in my adolescence? Had my mistakes, and the mistakes of others somehow contributed to this great sentencing? I didn’t know the answers, the only thing I knew was I no longer had a mother on this earth, and I felt so very cut-off from the presence of God.
For a while, I continued on this roller coaster of self-pity, anger, denial, guilt, self-hate, depression, anxiety, and pain. I attended therapy, even though I didn’t want to. I took vitamins and supplements to combat the battle I had within my head daily. I tried to excercise, but I just felt like I was pushing a big boulder up an impossible hill. Finally, I had exhausted myself. Sick of trying different healing strategies, sick of analyzing every possible detail, sick of pretending, of worrying, of hating myself for not being the person I used to be, I let go of control. I realized that I could control the healing process just as much as I could control the wind. I let myself admit that I was angry with God, angry that he hadn’t answered my pleas to him the way that I wanted him to.
When I realized that right now I was only human, subject to the emotions of fear, anxiety, anger, content, happiness, and joy, I let go of the reins. The way I saw it, my soul and heart knew what I needed and they would take care of it. I still went to therapy, I still took my vitamins, but I quit putting a timeline on it.
With time, I came to understand my anger against God, and to forgive myself as I knew he already had. I realized that maybe God really did know the bigger picture. I started to hear stories of people who had my mother’s presence around them. I started to see signs and feel her presence around me, however random that was. I realized that the only way I was going to heal was if I came back to God, came back realizing that I wasn’t perfect, and this life wasn’t perfect, but that it wasn’t meant to be with-out joy. I started reading the Book of Mormon, attending my meetings, and drawing myself closer to God.<
The more I drew closer to him, the more I realized that he hadn’t cut me off at all. In fact, he had been there, holding me as I swirled with pain and grief. He had put blessings, people, experiences, and opportunities in my life that helped me heal. He hadn’t shut me out, I had shut him out. I had exiled myself, afraid of the anger I had towards him and the guilt that came with it. I know now, that God loves me no matter what. He understands what my pain feels like, and he forgives me even before I make the mistake. He continued to care for me even though I ran anywhere but towards the light of the Gospel.
I began to understand that God was merciful, that although my mother’s cancer hadn’t ended like we hoped, it had ended as mercifully as it could. God had supported her and my family through the trial, and continued to support us today. I understood that family was so much more important than education (although this one is still pretty important), riches, pride, and placement in this world. I understood that our life had a greater meaning than what we wore that day, or our date on Friday night. I realized that this life was a preparation, one we had all been anxious for, a preparation for the day we meet God again.
I understand that there is something so much bigger than this life, so much bigger we can hardly comprehend it. I understand that the only way to true happiness and peace is through the humbling of oneself, the accepting of Christ as our Savior, and following him. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that families are forever, and I will see my mom again someday. I know my mom is free from the pain of this earth, called home to complete a great work where she is desperately needed. I know that it’s okay she’s there, that I can share her for the furthering of the work and salvation of souls.
I still miss my mom daily. The pain has subsided and I’ve found my peace with it, but I will always miss her, and that’s okay. However, I know where she is, and I know that one day the rest of the questions will be explained and my understanding will be crystal clear. My therapist has been suggesting I write my feelings about this subject for….quite some time now, and I guess I feel as ready as I’ll ever be. I hope that my family’s experience can bring peace and comfort to those who need it, and bring others to the knowledge of God’s love.