Monday, September 21, 2009

Family is Forever

This last sunday we actually made it to church. I know I know. Having just one kid isn't an excuse. It has just been hard for us to go to church every sunday, when we spend about 90% of the time in the halls with the kiddo. The main reason we went this last sunday was because Brother Coakley called and asked me to give opening prayer in our sunday school class. I am happy he did.
I spend basically all of sacrament meeting (first hour) out in the hall with Rylend. He was able to sit still long enough for us three to take the sacrament, but then very quickly got VERY bored. So I went to to the usual laps. Another mom with her little girl was out there too. Rylend and Brooklyn became friends very fast (she is 16 months, he is almost 18 months) and soon her mommy Courtney and I were walking and talking together as the two little tykes explored the halls together. It was pretty cute. Rylend would randomly sprawl out on the ground on his back and Brooklyn would walk over and crouch next to him, patting his tummy or rubbing his hair. He would smile, then spring up and they would run again.
At one point though...while taking a break on the couch...Rylend saw the fire alarm. They have a plastic cover over them to prevent them from being pulled too easy and...well..Rylend must have decided that the cover just had to go. Before I could stop him, he reached over and knocked it off. The cover has ana alarm...much like a car it started peeping away. I snatched Rylend up and was just thinking "Oh, you gotta be kidding me!" Luckily our friend David Lloyd came out and made it stop for us, and just gave us a smile. My kid...
Well, halfway through sunday school (yes, after I said the opening prayer) we decided we would duck out and see if we could maybe slip Rylend into nursery a few weeks early. They very happily accepted him and as we opened the door for him to go in, he smilied and booked it in, instantly running for another little boy he knows (my visitng teacher's 2 year old son Tane). It was wayyy nice to be able to just sit next to Shane the rest of sunday school and...LISTEN! Oh my! On my way to Relief Society I decided to peek in and see how Rylend was doing. He was sprawled out on his belly on the floor, Brooklyn cuddled up next to him, and they were happily playing with some toys together. It was too cute. After church when I went to get him, he was cuddled up to Sister Sellers (his teacher) and looked pretty content. Then he saw me. His eyes got all huge and water, and he quickly stood up and ran towards me, arms out, saying "Momma!!" It made my day. They told me he did awesome, only got a bit teary eyed in the last ten or so minutes. I was so proud of him. My little boy is now in nursery. AWW

In Relief Society they were talking about doing temple work for your ancestors. I was listening, but found my mind drifting to other thoughts. As most of you know, my family converted to the church when I was a little kid. Im not one of those born and bred mormons, like it seems most are. When I was about 9 or so, my family went to the temple to get sealed together. I remember feeling so special, because most other kids my age didnt get to go to the temple, and here I was, not only going in, but going up to a sealing room too. Its hard to have spiritual experiences at that age. I remember my parents dropping us off in the kid care area while they went to do their thing. My brothers and I did our usual bickering, though we did try to be more reverent about it (as if that is possible). Sitting in Relief Society yesterday, I looked back on that day and realized there were moments that made more of an impact on me than I had realized.
One of the moments was a little girl that was there. Oh man, she was energetic. And not happy to be kept in the kids area. I think she was about two or so. She was all over the place, throwing toys and crying and making noise. Finally one of the temple matrons came to get her and bring her to her parents. Her family was getting sealed that day too. I remember wondering what they would do with her and her noisiness. In the temple, you are supposed to be quiet and reverent. Its a very peaceful place. Well, later the matron who was taking care of us told us what had happened. The little girl had made noise all the way up to the sealing room. Yet as soon as they opened the door, she quieted down. They handed her to her parents, who were kneeling together at the alter. Very quietly, and without anyone telling her to, the little girl reached out and placed her small hand on top of her parents'. Something had calmed her. The little girl knew that at that moment, it was time to be reverent. I truly believe little children can feel and hear the Spirit stronger than we adults can. Moments like this shine that true.
Another moment. There was a little boy waiting in the room with us also. He was maybe a year old. This boy...He had a heart defect. His skin had a blue tinge to it. His family was getting sealed to him before they knew he would pass, which could be any day. I remember looking at him across the room. A matron was holding him, showing him toys. She saw me watching, and asked if I wanted to come play with him. I walked over and reached out to hold his tiny hand. It was ice cold. Even at 9 years old, I remember feeling my heart break for this little boy and his family. It wasn't fair that he was barely even a year old and was facing death so soon. My brothers held his hand too. A few moments later a matron came to pick him up and bring him to his family. To this day I still remember his name: Benjamin. I never found out what happened to him. But for some reason, a few days after our temple day, I always felt like someone had told me he had passed. I know my parents didnt. And no one from the temple would have. But in my heart, I was always so sure that someone had told me that Benjamin, just a few day after being sealed to his parents, had passed from this life. I felt sad, but I was always comforted, knowing that one of the last things he did was be sealed to his family for time.
I remember finally going up to our parents. Walking in my stocking feet down the hallways of the temple, taking a quiet elevator ride up, the matron smiling at us. I remember waiting outside the room, looking out the window at the temple grounds below. I can still point out which window it was that I looked out that day. Then they opened the door, and let us in. My Dad always jokes about my mom was able to hold it together the whole day until she saw us three enter that room. Tears started to stream down her face, and my dad's eyes glistened. We knelt at the alter with my parents, placing our hands on top of theirs, and were sealed together as a family for time. I remember feeling the peace of that day, but not understanding it fully.
Looking back now, at all the moments of that day, I finally do understand. We all pray for God to send us moments, to touch us with His presence. And we never realize how often He truly does do that. I remember the little girl, who felt the Spirit so strong, even in her youth, that she quieted down and let it fill the room. I remember Benjamin. A boy that in our minds was being taken before his time. And his family knew they needed to be sealed to him before he left. I can imagine the joy in their hearts as he sat at the alter with them, his tiny cold hand held in theirs, as they were promised that though this life may end, he will always be with them. Always. And though my brothers and I faced no life theatening illnesses, the tears on my mom's face as she saw her three children enter the room, dressed in white, shows she too felt the same thing.
This life is a precious thing. We spend much of our time struggling for money, for bills, for the small things we think are so important yet really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. In all reality, kneeling across the alter with your love and your children, knowing that no matter what may happen in this life, you will NEVER lose eachother in the eternities to come...THAT is what life is about. I have been thinking about this alot today. I have been watching my little boy play. And I find myself with tears in my eyes, knowing that I will never lose him. That he is sealed to this family that Shane and I have created. And though life may be hard. Though he might stray, he might grow distant from us and lose his way, that in the end we will all be waiting to embrace and comfort. Family is a bond that cannot be broken. Maybe it will look weakened at times, but it can never disappear. I am so happy that I sa tin Relief Society and let my mind wander back to memories I do not touch on often enough. They seemed to simple when they happened. But years later...thats when I needed the memories of those moments to touch my mind again. God truly does work in a very mysterious way. But if we do listen, He does answer.
I love my family. I may live far from them and may not talk to them enough. But they are my family. We have our great memories, our bitter ones, and everything in between, but I would never trade any of them. Each memory, each moment, has made me who I am today. I am proud of my parents for choosing this path, even though I know how hard it has been at times for them. There is no doubt how much they love their children, and looking back now at the memory of both of them kneeling at the alter, tears in eyes as they saw us enter the sealing room, I know how much I do love them.