Thank you, Mel. You have been a great example to me my whole life. Your testimony and love of the scriptures is so beautiful. I have a deep love and gratitude for fasting, too. It is powerful. It is yet another way we give up a tiny bit and the Lord dumps blessings all over us. I have spent the last fiveish months being the recipient of the power of fasting. This week I was finally able to give back a little. I know its power and I will take every opportunity I get for the rest of my life to fast for anyone who needs it. Call me. I'll fast for you.
Our 18-year-old friend Alex has a brain tumor and is at the end of his six-year struggle now and our ward united to fast for him to be able to go peacefully. As you can imagine, I struggle to see him go. Why do I get to live and he doesn't? Luckily, being around him and speaking with his mom brings so much comfort. He is at peace with it and so we can't not be. He has his "peace blanket" that I mentioned in the beginning of my struggle and I can sit outside of it and wonder why and cry or I can grab an edge and climb under it and feel the warmth that comes from knowing Heavenly Father loves each of us so much and will find a way to make us so much happier than we can ever make ourselves if we let Him.
When my dad died almost 13 years ago, my family snuggled under the peace blanket for a long time. I was happy and the testimony that families are forever was handed to me to help me get through it. Sooner or later, however, I climbed out from under the blanket and began to feel ripped-off. It was a choice I made to leave that peace behind and feel sorry for myself, for my mom, for my younger brothers and sister who didn't get to know him as well as I did. For how much of him I never got to know. I got mad that he wouldn't meet my husband or play on the floor with my kids. Now, having just been through something that really was in the Lord's hands as to which way it would go - I understand better His love for me - for each of us. I know that when "bad" things happen, it's usually to bring about something even better. Every member of my family has been through the temple. All of my brothers have served missions. We are married with great kids. We love each other so much. My mom has shown her strength and proven herself and her capacity to endure. Maybe those things would have happened otherwise, who knows? What I do know is that the path the Lord put us on by taking my father when we were as young as we were has strengthened all of us and we are all very happy. We have sad times for sure, but I think we'll be surprised to know how much my dad has remained a part of our lives all along. Our blanket is always there for us to use if we want to feel that.
It's part of me now. I take it wherever I go. If you ever feel sad, come cuddle with me.
I'm so sorry for the pain that Alex and his family must still endure. My very favorite story of Christ is when He wept when Lazarus had died. He understood the plan better than anyone ever could and He still felt pain and sadness at that time. His compassion is overwhelming. He will cry with you, too. And so will I.