Warning – I am too tired in emotional and physical ways to even hope for effective editing of this post tonight. Please read it with patience for my failings and hope for my potential to become so much better than I am today.
Some lessons in life can be learned quickly or easily. Most of them are challenging to learn in some way. And still others take re-learning the same lesson again and again. I got to substitute in my daughters church class today. I had known I was teaching for most of the week, but had not ever seemed to be able to dive into the lesson. I was ready to fully engross myself in whatever topic I was supposed to be covering. Then I finally heard more about how my Grandma was doing in the hospital. All thoughts of lesson preparation went out the window when I learned of her delicate state. Hours. Hours was all that separated her from her welcome into the arms of waiting loved ones on the other side of the veil. I fell apart.
I didn’t fall apart simply because I will miss my Grandma dearly or because I don’t realize that she will be happier in the arms of my Grandpa than in the folds of hospital blankets. I fell apart as well because I knew it was by my own choices that I was going to be denied the opportunity to hug my Grandma good bye and tell her myself, one more time, that I love her. To understand, I supposed I need to back up to earlier yesterday morning…
I woke up to 5 darling children surprising HUBBY and I with an over-sized Valentine card and a freshly decorated Valentine’s box for us to share. I excitedly got dressed and sat while ONE did my hair in a super fancy hairdo and HUBBY made breakfast pizza that filled our house with the wafts of heavenly combinations of cinnamon and sugar. I was looking forward to a day with the sisters at church. We were having classes, crafts, and snacks. I love that combination! I decided I should check in with my Mom before heading off to the church. I found out from my sister that Grandma was starting to decline. It sounded bad, but not particularly desperate. I asked HUBBY what he thought I should do. We have an out of commission van right now and Grandma is over an hour away, on the other side of a mountain from us. I didn’t know how I could arrange to get there or if I should yet. Grandma wanted me to come visit earlier in the week, but I had class and it didn’t feel right to go down that day, but yesterday I just didn’t know. HUBBY encouraged me to head to my church gathering and pray about it – about what I should do. Wisely, I listened to him. As I walked the two-ish blocks to the church, I prayed. I asked if I should go down. I got a confirmation that I should. Then I focused on the predicament of how I should go down. I prayed to know what to do while I was with the sisters at church. I didn’t feel any real encouragement in that prayer, but did not have any other ideas except the thought to go home and figure it out. I kept walking.
I had no great thoughts while at church or any inspiration about what I should do, but I did have a lovely time. I got home after a quick-ish trip to grab a few groceries on my way home. I asked HUBBY what I should do about going down, but things were crazy and we both ended up wrapped up in the doings of the kids and not sitting down to find a way for me to get to Grandma. I realized that we still had not talked about it as it was getting near to kid bedtimes. I called my Mom. Then she delivered the sad news that only a few hours remained for my sweet Grandma. I told her I would find a way to get there right away and got off the phone in despair in the knowledge that the delay in my response to my impressions of the morning had kept me from already being at her side. I begged HUBBY to help me know what to do through broken-hearted sobs. He was fully at a loss. He had not known of my earlier inspiration (though I thought I had told him, I had apparently only thought to tell him). According to my clock, I had JUST missed the last bus that could get me to them for the day. The rental car places were all closed. I was completely at a loss. So we prayed. After we prayed, HUBBY told me he felt that I needed to stay home. I did not want to hear that. I knew if I did, I would not get the chance to see my Grandmother again before she slipped from mortality. I also knew that I would have to live with the knowledge that I was supposed to go and see her, but had squandered the opportunity. That was a heavy burden to bear. Unfortunately, I felt it too. I had waited to long to figure it out, and it was not right anymore for me to go down. I even had a brother-in-law that was willing to come and get me and bring me to the hospital, but I knew it was not the right things to do. I didn’t go.
Instead I stayed and I cried. I mourned my Grandmother’s sweet presence and that I would never get to feel that again in the flesh. I wept for my foolish choice to wait to act on a prompting. I mourned for the world’s loss of such a great woman as my good Grandma. I let the tears flow and shared my heart with a perfectly loving Heaven;y Father. I prayed for forgiveness for my foolish choice and for my Grandma’s forgiveness. I prayed that He would somehow let her feel my love across the distance that shouldn’t have separated us. I apologized to HUBBY for getting so frustrated with him for not helping me figure it out earlier. I really thought I had asked for his help, but I think I ended up not doing it. No wonder he was not helping. He had no idea I wanted help. Unfortunately for us both, I felt neglected and laid some portion of blame at his feet about me not going down. (BTW – laying blame is so wretched and I am trying not to do it ever anymore, even when some fault might exist, laying blame does next to nothing in terms of resolving things.) I asked forgiveness for my useless frustration. Then I was able to move on to more useful things. I prayed for my Grandma’s peace and for the peace of those she would be leaving behind and for those that were waiting for her to return to them as well. Then I started to feel my own chunk of peace as well.
After finding my place of calm, I opened up my lesson for primary and began to read. It was about Joseph Smith and Martin Harris and the translation of the Book of Mormon. My mind immediately grabbed on to the simile between my wrong choice and Joseph’s wrong choice to give Martin the 116 pages. Wow! I felt so much sorrier for Joseph’s bitterness of grief at realizing her had made a serious error and had lost incredible blessings because of it. I also realized that he was able to continue on after great repentance and changing. I can only imagine how soul wracking that must have been for him.
Then I realized something else that I had never caught on to when reading that story. I realized that even after true and complete and difficult repentance, things were never quite the same. I will NEVER be able to have one more chance to hug my Grandma in this life. He was NEVER able to re-translate those pages. I know my choice effected me, my Grandma, my Mom, perhaps my kids, and I have no idea who else or how. Joseph’s choice affected him, Emma, Martin, and every person who has ever read the Book of Mormon. The filth of transgression is removed – forever – through earnest repentance, but the consequences of sin are not so easily altered and often the rippling effect of those consequences lead to potentially incredibly far reaching effects, even for unexpected people. Heavenly Father knew that Joseph would make the choice he made and worked it out so that His plan would not be messed up because of it. However, Joseph COULD have made the right choice and he, and all those others, would have received even greater blessings because of it. After talking about some of that with ONE’s primary class today, a little boy asked me why Joseph did something so stupid. I then asked him if her ever does anything stupid. He said yes. I asked him why he does. He didn’t know any better than I know why I was so stupid as to not turn around yesterday morning and go figure out a way to get to my Grandma. Then I pointed out that Heavenly Father still loved Joseph, and that those stupid moments NEVER put us out of the reach of His endless love. I am SO grateful for the truth of His love!
(This is a side note for those with inquisitive minds – like me. My sister that was down in my Grandma’s hospital room sent me an email at 12:43 this morning. It said, “Katie, she’s finally done fighting. She’s beautiful and at peace.” I wish like madness I could go back and make a different choice to have been with her then, but I can’t. I will have to move forward attempting to focus on the beauty of knowing that she finally is at peace and just being happy for her.)