Thursday, September 6, 2012


Last night, in my quest for a better understanding of the life beyond this one, I laid in bed and began to read, "The Message" by Lance Richardson, an LDS man from Idaho. Richardson writes about what he learned from his death, brief visit to the spirit world, then subsequent revival. I feel somewhat skeptical about the premise of such experiences when the source isn't too authoritative, but reading through the first few chapters brought about an experience that I share with utmost reverence.

When reading about Richardson's description of his death, I could not help but picture Holden going through a similar experience.

     . . . I was struggling to get enough air and felt that I was suffocating. . . I began to feel panicky. My hands were tingling. Sweat was cascading down my face. . . The room seemed to be spinning. I was getting more and more dizzy and extremely nauseated. All I could do was fight for air and pray to God for help. 
     I had never quite realized how absolutely crucial oxygen is to our survival. And at that moment I would have given anything to be able to calmly expand my lungs and take in their fill. But I could not. . . The sensation was terrifying. 

It may have been the late hour, but my emotions got the best of me as I closed the book, then my eyes, and relived Holden's last earthly hour.

As this is a public forum and those moments are sacred to us, I will spare the details. But the feelings came sweeping over me last night and they haven't felt that fresh since the day it happened. It was an anguish that I could never ever before imagine. I couldn't bear to think of Holden going through it. I began to repeat in my tormented mind the question, "Holden. Did you suffer?" "Did you suffer, Holden?". I posed the question a dozen times before I heard, maybe not in a literal, audible way, but nonetheless heard, my son's first words: "No, Dad." 

Only once before have I had such a distinct and strong impression and that was shortly after hearing of Holden's fate from the surgeon. Had I not experienced it before, I would probably conclude it was my imagination, but I do not doubt the source of the words. 

I told Caitlin of my experience this morning and we both felt so comforted that, not only was his passing peaceful to him, but that his spirit really does live and watch over us.

I believe in a merciful God that loves us and suffers when we suffer. I feel like we got a miniscule taste of how He felt when his son was on the cross. Had I the power, I certainly would have shook the Earth in anguish as well.

I could definitely empathize with those who blame God, doubt his existence, or who let their life go to shambles over things like this, but to do so is to turn your back on the one real source of comfort and lasting peace. I don't know all the answers, but I'm grateful for the ones I do have. I'm grateful that God's plan includes a paradise where my son can dwell without pain or misery. I'm glad that a principal part of the plan includes the restoration of my family, never again to be separated. Caitlin and I simply cannot comprehend how hard all of this would be without the Gospel in our life. It is the oxygen we breathe, without which, we wouldn't survive.

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