It was about seven years ago that I got the dreaded call from my older brother, Richard. I looked down at my cell phone to see his name light up. I knew that he had been in to see the doctor that week for a prognosis on his pancreatic cancer. When I answered the phone, he greeted me in his usual style of class and suave and said, “Well, it looks like I will be checking out early.” A few months later he died at the age of fifty-nine.
I had the opportunity to see Rich one more time before he passed on to the other side of the veil. I stood next to him as we looked out his back window just weeks before his death. He said to me, “It’s just so hard to believe that in a month or so my name will appear in the local obituary and a funeral service will be held on my behalf.” I was speechless. I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept. So I could imagine why he said what he did. And although I have a firm testimony of the resurrection, it is still difficult to see one of your siblings die at such a young age. I lost a sister who was in her early 40’s many years ago. She is buried in the same cemetery as my brother. After we had buried my brother, I saw my Father, and being from out-of-town I went over to him to ask where the gravestone was of my sister. I embraced him and told him that he did a wonderful job of speaking at the funeral. He had spoken on the great hope of the resurrection. With tears in his eyes he said, “I believe every word I said!” “So do I,” was my reply! Then we walked up the hill where he and I stood over the gravestone of my sister. As I knelt down and touched her stone to brush off the leaves, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t help but cry out in the anguish of my soul at the loss of two of my siblings at such young ages.
However, that being said, my soul is hopeful that I will see both of them, along with my Mother and other loved ones. I take comfort in the teachings found in the scriptures, particularly the message found in Alma 22:14 which states:
“And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory…”
A talk was given by Thomas Monson in 1993 entitled “Hopeless Dawn- Joyful Morning”. In it he expresses these thoughts:
“The famed scientist Madame Marie Curie returned to her home the night of the funeral for her husband, Pierre Curie, who was killed in an accident in the streets of Paris, and made this entry in her diary: “They filled the grave and put sheaves of flowers on it. Everything is over. Pierre is sleeping his last sleep beneath the earth. It is the end of everything, everything, everything!” In reality, every thoughtful person has asked himself this question: Does the life of man continue beyond the grave? Death comes to all mankind. It comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life’s journey, and often it hushes the laughter of little children. Death is one tragic fact that no one can escape or deny.”
Yet, President Monson presented the glorious doctrine of the resurrection when he continued:
“The darkness of death can ever be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master; “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25–26.)
Indeed, my siblings had left this life early but the old saying that “the good die young” is really not true. Because they will never die! Their influence and light still lives on in their posterity and in the good works that stand as a testimony of their lives of service. And I have faith that my siblings are living on the other side of the veil. None of us know for sure what the length of our journey will be here on this planet. But I have great hope and faith in the promises of the Lord that when the day comes that words are said over my coffin, the essence of who I am will have moved on to that glorious after-life that awaits the faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Of this, I am sure!
Photo: (4 Brothers)-Richard, Andy, Scott, Doug