Saturday, September 22, 2012


Jonathan - courtesy of
Earlier this week, the husband of my cousin, Tina, passed away from colon cancer.  He only learned 9 months ago that he had it.  They tried all the usual stuff to help him, but it was just too far advanced when they found it.

For the last 9 months, I've followed the blog they set up to keep people updated.  About 2 weeks ago, things just started to go downhill and I knew it likely wouldn't be long before he would pass away.  On Tuesday, September 18th, it happened.  His sister, the famous scrapbooking goddess of the world, Becky Higgins, posted the most beautiful tribute to him on her blog that day.

Then, yesterday, Tina posted the sweetest summary of his last days and hours on the blog.  At one point, she talked of how during the last hours of Jonathan's life, his family was gathered around him and there was a text message from a former seminary class teacher with a recording of the seminary students Jonathan loved serving so much, singing Be Still, My Soul.  I lost it and started bawling as I continued reading.

I didn't know Jonathan personally, but I felt like I did.  I've had his sister in my home.  I've read her blog about him and how he truly cultivated a good life.  I've read Tina's entries and was in awe of his love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how even during the last days and weeks of his life, he wanted to make sure his family knew that, understood it, and lived it.  He had a "bucket list" of things he wanted to do before he passed away and one was to have a final family picture taken in front of the Washington D.C. temple to remind his family that their family is an ETERNAL family - sealed together for all eternity, not just "'til death do you part."

Jonathan and family - courtesy of
I look at this picture and wonder who took it and if they knew what was about to happen to this family.  I bet it was Tina's mom, so she knew.  But what if it wasn't.  I'm sure they could tell with how sick J looks.  But, it is incredibly sweet how the whole family is smiling as much as they can during this difficult time.

Two days before he left this mortal world, Jonathan and Tina sat their family down together to talk about the Plan of Salvation (where we came from, why we are here and where we are going), what would happen to his spirit and his body, and the funeral they would have.  As difficult as it was to know that his time here on earth was almost over, I bet it brought peace to him to know that he had a firm testimony of Jesus Christ and that he would soon be in His arms and out of pain.

Tonight, as I was preparing my lesson for church tomorrow, I came across this scripture:

And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, 
for it shall be sweet unto them; 
and they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter.  

I thought of Jonathan again and realized that because of our beliefs in an afterlife, the Atonement, eternal families, and more, death is merely a moment in time that fills us with sadness for the loss of a physical body but helps us know that we will be able to be with our loved one again some day.  I grieve for those who don't have that same knowledge, that same belief.  I have been to funerals of those not of our faith and I see how sad they are, how sad the families are, how overcome with emotion they are for their "loss".  When I go to an LDS funeral, sure, there are tears, there is sadness, but it is different.  We know that some day we will see that loved one again.  We know that we will be together as an eternal family because we've lived righteously, and because we've been sealed together through the sealing power of the Priesthood which only our church has.

Today was Jonathan's funeral.  I know what their children are feeling right now.  I've lived it.  My mom passed away 7 years ago.  I miss her every day and wish I could pick up the phone and call her.  I know I'll see her again some day, but some days, I just need to talk to her.  I feel for Tina.  Her mother was killed in a freak accident when she was only 3 or 4 years old.  Her dad was my dad's best friend and later married my dad's cousin and has been Tina's mom all these years.  Tina's dad passed away a few years ago.  And now her spouse, her eternal companion, has gone on too.  What a strong woman she is.  My prayers go out to her this night.

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