After marrying my childhood sweetheart, we were delighted to be blessed with a son and daughter. Almost by chance, and after a medical check-up, it was pronounced that our three-year old son had testicular cancer. I could not have been more shocked if the Chief of Surgery had punched me in the stomach. We were told that if he lived six months, he would have a good chance of living longer.
My sister, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, suggested a priesthood blessing. We were not religious, but agreed. This meant a special prayer was given on our son’s behalf by one having the authority to act for God. How merciful our Father in Heaven was to us. Our son turned fifty-four this year and is married with children of his own. The youngest is twenty-three with Down Syndrome, and his family adores him.
I joined that church after investigating with missionaries and confirming through prayer that it was true. My husband, Wayne, joined four years later. The following year our family was sealed together in the Cardston Alberta Temple. We would now have the opportunity to be together, eternally, if all chose to do so.
We have experienced the usual trials: financial struggles, unemployment due to downsizing, deaths of parents, nephew and niece suicides, the sudden death of a healthy and fit nephew, long-term injuries from car accidents, and children’s painful divorces.
But 2011 changed us forever. While returning home from a vacation, and staying for a night in a motel, we received a message that our forty-year-old daughter and mother of four was in a coma in Edmonton. We left, after some car trouble, and drove through the night. We never received a bill for the motel or tow truck. There are kind people in the world.
After collapsing while feeding her five-month old son, attempts to revive our daughter failed and she had been rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. What a shock. Friends helped. The staff was thoughtful and caring. How we need others in times of crisis!
It was a very long week filled with fervent prayers. After five days the doctor met with us, telling us no brain waves were recorded and asked us to consider removing all life support. Her brave husband said to her, “You can go, I’ve got this.” I cannot remember having so much pain. This was a heavy trial. I stayed with the family for eighteen months since our little, baby grandson was not old enough to be accepted in daycare, and all were mourning. Our church family and friends were wonderful.
Thirteen months after our daughter’s death, Wayne suddenly and unexpectantly passed away after returning home from a hike with our granddaughter. CPR was attempted and ambulance attendants were also unable to revive him. He was gone, but I felt Heavenly Father’s presence and love.
Later I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. After surgery and complications, I knew that I was at a crossroad, life or death, and I accepted either outcome. I prayed to Heavenly Father that if He wanted me to live, to please give me strength. Suddenly I felt a sensation of resilience and warmth come over me from head to toe. My health has been much better since these trials in 2014 after reconstructive surgery.
Recently my dear friend, who was fighting cancer for the third time, lost her battle and passed away March 27, 2022. She was dear to my heart; a mentor, educator, sounding board, and wise advisor. Again, my life was touched by the death of a loved one. Your trials may be different than mine, but everyone has them. If we are lucky, we have faith, family, friends, and strength to endure what life deals us, and can still find love, happiness, and peace.
What my trials have taught me
So today I have learned to count my blessings; appreciate time spent with family and friends; serve others when I can; enjoy nature; look for the good in others; and thank God for everything, every minute and for every lesson He has allowed me to experience.
I have learned about true love, and understand the importance of family and friendship. I know we are all on the Lord’s time and each day brings new opportunities for us to love, forgive, teach, and be taught life’s lessons as we carry our set of trials. With God on our side they become lighter. He is my guide when the path is dark, steep, crowded, empty, or unknown. He is only a prayer away and never fails me. I look forward to the next life while enjoying the now.
Our Savior, who willingly suffered to pay for our sins, sorrows, and infirmities, gave His life to save ours. He meets all our physical needs by giving fresh air, sunshine, water, food, shelter, and heat. He provides for our social needs through the internet, family, and friends. Spiritual needs are sustained through inspired leaders, teachers, prophets, apostles, and scriptures. We receive encouragement, hope, love, and His guiding Spirit daily when we put our trust in Him. I am grateful to have been born now.
To quote a mother’s advice given to Joseph B. Wirthlin, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, we can have the attitude, “Come what may, and love it” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Come What May, and Love It,” Ensign, Nov. 2008). Look for these gifts to share with others and even your heaviest trials will seem lighter.