Oh how I love technology! It can be such a blessing in our lives…I remember when my brothers were on their missions in Guatemala and Japan, it would take a good two weeks for letters to get back and forth. By that time, we’d forgotten the questions that we would be getting the answers to! News would be ‘old’ by the time we got it…but we didn’t know any better, so it was exciting to get that thin red, white and blue folded piece of paper stamped ‘airmail’ in the mailbox each week!
When Taylor left four years ago, I would anxiously sit by the computer on Monday mornings…I knew about what time he would get on the computer there, so I would just keep ‘refreshing’ my email to see when it would finally come through! Email Mondays were my favorite!
Now that Tanner is out of the Argentina training center and in Paraguay, his preparation day is Monday also, and I wait just as impatiently for that email to come through…it’s like Christmas every Monday…he informed us last Monday that he has had a fever of nearly 103 the past few days and had been quite sick. Not always what a mother likes to hear when her son is a continent away from her…it is close to midnight this Sunday evening, and although I am exhausted, sleep will not come because of the anticipation of these emails I have come to love!
Changing gears a bit, we just spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Beautiful Island Park, the place our family loves more than anywhere in the world, especially in the winter. This week, we were lucky enough to find some snow and do a little snowmobiling…another loved family pastime. Darren, Taylor, Brian and I headed out for a ride Saturday morning, and rode as close as weather would permit us to getting to the top of Two Top, a mountain peak that separates Island Park from West Yellowstone, one of our family’s favorite rides. As we rode along, I had plenty of time to think to myself as I cruised down the trails, admiring the snow-covered pine trees and majestic mountain views. Each time we pulled off the trail to play in some fresh, untouched powder, I had vivid images in my mind of Tyler riding around in that same meadow, practicing ‘doughnuts’, jumping off cornices, or just speeding by me, laughing because his snowmobile was so loud it would make me jump…yes, although it’s been exactly eighteen months since he’s been gone, the memories and pain can return with such fierceness that they still can literally take my breath away and make my heart race…
As I rode down the trail flooded with memories of Ty (I ride his snowmobile and wear some of his clothes), I was also missing Tanner and thinking about the upcoming email I need so much. I got thinking, ‘What if I could just get one email from heaven?’ What would I give for a little vibration on my phone, alerting me to a message that Ty’s okay now, what he’s been up to, and that he’s happy and great…enjoying his new adventures very much, but looking forward to the day when he can be with us again. That’s what I’m imagining Tanner’s email is going to say Monday-couldn’t I just get one from Ty too?
I mentioned this to my sweet, wise friend. She lovingly reminded me that maybe my ‘emails’ are beautiful snow-covered pine trees, mountain-top views where one can almost see forever…going together as a family to get a Christmas Tree and being able to laugh again…
I know she’s right. My ‘emails’ are there, waiting to be recognized. I have a loving Father in Heaven who desires to bless me and ‘communicate’ with me with all he has given me. This season, I am grateful for this knowledge, and mostly for my family and the love we have for each other…those bonds will never be broken.
I hope all those who have lost someone dear will be able to ‘open their emails’ as well and see the tender mercies of the Lord in all they have been blessed with as well. I believe He is constantly placing loving signs in our path if we will only open our eyes and recognize them!
This has been a very emotional week for our family. Last Thursday, we said goodbye to Tanner as he walked away from us, through security in the airport, and flew off to serve the people in Paraguay for twenty four months. I am so proud of him and his decision to serve, but it’s not an easy thing for a mother to watch her son walk away for two years, only to be able to hear his voice on Christmas and Mother’s Day! My heart has been quite heavy the past few months as I anticipated his absence from our home. But, at the same time, I am looking forward to reading about his experiences and meeting the man who will return home to us who left us as a boy.
So, while I am still reeling just a bit from Tanner leaving us, Tyler’s 17th birthday comes right around the corner. I have wondered if I should let this birthday go by without acknowledging it on the blog, but decided tonight that I would like to still give Tyler a birthday present. Last year, I asked people to give Tyler a gift – a ‘gift of their heart’. I asked for people to make a change in their lives for the better, write it down and put it in the gift box at Tyler’s grave. I was both amazed and honored when I went to the grave that night and saw his green gift box overflowing with notes and letters of loved ones committing to improve some aspect of their life. I know Tyler would have loved that birthday. I remember the promise I gave him for his birthday, and I am still conscious of it and am still trying to improve on it.
This year, I would like to do another ‘gift of the heart’, for Ty’s birthday. I would like all who would like to participate to do a random act of service for someone on Tuesday, October 15th, Tyler’s 17th birthday. It doesn’t have to be an all-day service project, but maybe just a small act that would make someone else smile for the day and remember that they are noticed and loved.
I know that when we serve, not only does our service help others, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves. Like it says in the New Testament, “He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39) President Spencer W. Kimball said, ‘We become more substantive as we serve others – indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!’
One of my favorite quotes from President Kimball is:
‘God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other…So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane help with mundane tasks,but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds!’
Sometimes, we are the only way that Heavenly Father can show another person that they are noticed and loved. I have had that witness many times over the last two years – that my Heavenly Father knows who I am, when someone happens to show up at my door, sends a card, or makes a phone call to check on me. I would ask that each of us be that person, if not every day, at least on Tuesday, as a gift to my son. I know he would love nothing better than for us to spread happiness that day, and perhaps show someone who was slipping into despair that they are noticed and loved by us and a loving Heavenly Father.
If you would like to share what you have done, I would love to know about it. I will have a gift box again at his grave. If you cannot go, please remember to still serve someone…it will mean just as much to him.
Happy 17th Birthday Tyler…we miss you with all of our hearts and wish you were here celebrating with us. Our family looks forward to the day we are reunited and can enjoy eternity together!