This past week has been crazy and quite exhausting, but it has been made a little easier by everyone’s support, love and prayers and I thank you all for that. The hardest thing really has been just watching my family struggle through this trial. It’s been hard for me, but losing a brother isn’t anything like losing a son. My parents have been amazing through all of this and it’s so hard for me to watch them be in pain. Most of the time I have no clue how to comfort them. I don’t want to use the word easy, because it hasn’t been easy, but it seems like it’s been a lot easier (for me) than I would have thought. I would have imagined myself crying for days and days and never wanting to come outside, not wanting to laugh again or smile or tell jokes or talk about Tyler. However, those things haven’t happened. Sometimes I catch myself when I want to say something about what he was like in certain situations, but it’s mostly because I feel like it might make it awkward for the person I’m talking to rather than difficult for me. It has really helped to be around people constantly, though sometimes I do wish I could be by myself (the one drawback of being a set-apart missionary at home in the middle of something like this). Although, it has been kind of fun to see the look on people’s faces when I explain why I’m a missionary and my companion is someone who isn’t (particularly at the temple this week). It will be hard to leave my family next week in the midst of all that’s happened, but they’re strong and I hope that they know how important a mission is and what blessings come from dedicating so much of my time to serving the Lord. I am so excited to serve Him 24/7 for 18 months and the excitement keeps growing! I love my family so much and I know they’ll be alright without having me here and only hearing from me once a week. 🙂
Something I’ve been thinking about a lot (and apparently my mom thought about it, too), is that the Lord doesn’t give us anything we won’t be able to handle. Trials are given to us so that we can draw closer to Heavenly Father and be strengthened. I truly have been strengthened by the trial of losing my brother, someone who I looked up to my entire life and was always striving to be like. I started piano lessons because of him. I took German because of him. I’m always trying to be funny because I admired the way he could make jokes without even pausing to think (I can’t do it very well at all). I’m not sure I can explain exactly how I feel, but let me just say, it feels like Tyler and I seriously could have been twins if not for the 2 1/2 year difference in our ages. He doesn’t want us to be sad, but to be happy! And I honestly feel like celebrating and stop all the crying and somber faces. Everyone has to grieve in their own way and in their own time, and those of us (like me) who just want to go on with life and have a party and celebrate the fact that Tyler is back with Heavenly Father need to learn patience, compassion and empathy for those who take a little longer to accept the tragedies of life. We are told to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that are in need of comfort. I have tried to do that, and I don’t know how well I’ve done, but hopefully I have been able to comfort at least one person.
When all the articles about Tyler were being posted, I saw and heard a lot of comments about how he shouldn’t have been alone or that he should have told someone where he was going. While those things are true, they were said in a way that was a little hurtful to us who knew Tyler. At first, I was mad at those people, who seemed to just be ignorant and unsympathetic. Tyler was an experienced hiker and he knew that mountain like the back of his hand. He often went alone, and it was often because he would wake up and decide to go for a hike. He would ask people if they were available to go with him, but he was one of those people who would go no matter if anyone could go with him or not. Tyler was an Eagle Scout and he always went prepared. He wasn’t stupid and would never do anything to purposely hurt himself or others. I had a New Testament professor who said “I believe that everyone has a death date. You can always make your life shorter than God planned, but you can never make it longer.” Tyler’s death was an accident. He wasn’t trying to die or anything like that, so I truly believe that it was his time to go home to Heavenly Father, though he was young. So even if he had someone with him, the only difference it would have made was getting the news of his death to us sooner. When Heavenly Father needs someone, he’s going to take them. As sad as it might be for those that are left behind, it is such a happy moment for Heavenly Father to bring one of His children back Home.
My testimony of Eternal Families and the Plan of Salvation has strengthened immensely during these last couple of weeks. Even though my family is not sealed, I still believe that we will be together again someday. Tyler will be there, waiting to welcome us Home. I can’t wait to see his smiling face again and wrap my arms around him. In the meantime, I will serve my mission faithfully and do all that I can to bring others unto Christ because that is my purpose as a missionary. I will, eventually, establish my own eternal family and I will teach my children the principles of the Gospel and how to be Christ-like, the way Tyler was. I will tell them stories of their uncle and make sure they know that they’ll be able to meet him someday. I will strengthen my divine qualities. I will be a disciple of Christ at all times, in all things and in all places. I will shine His light every way that I can and praise His name every day of my life. I know that He loves me no matter what, but I will strive to be the best I can be and reach my divine potential that I know I have. God is good, God is great. God is my Father in Heaven – I am the daughter of a King!