Sunday, October 26, 2008

How was your weekend?

As I read my scriptures on Friday, one of the songs I listened to was by the BYU Concert Choir: Death Shall Not Destroy My Comfort. Google informs me you can find a copy of them singing it on Youtube. I've always had a thing for glorious songs in minor keys and this has been a favorite. I thought to myself as I heard it Friday that the next time I had to experience someone's passing, I would have to sit in a dark quiet room and listen to that with my headphones on to get a good, healing cry.

And if you imagine I recognized that as foreshadowing at the time, you give me too much credit.....

Death shall not destroy my comfort,
Christ shall guide me thro’ the gloom;

Down he’ll send some heav’nly convoy,

To escort my spirit home.

Joy and I finally made it out to the temple Saturday. I consider it quite an accomplishment since the last few times we've tried to go, something got in the way. This time when something got in the way, we ran over it and just went anyway. We saw a lot of friends from our temple shifts there who loved to meet our prodigy (who is currently engaged in doing his best to climb/fall into the laundry basket and cry for help). The wonderful thing of going to the temple is being able to be of service to people who passed on without the opportunity to receive the full blessings of the gospel for themselves. It is a beautiful testimony of God's love for all of His children and His desire to bring all of us home.

Oh, hallelujah! How I Love my Savior,
Oh, hallelujah! That I Do.
Oh, Hallelujah! How I love my Savior!
Mourners, you may love him too.

I was very glad for the temple -- it took the edge off of some of the pain I've been feeling the last few days. I don't know why, but I just really haven't felt well. At one point on our drive to the temple, I pulled over to give Joy a turn driving because I was starting to feel unsafe on our heavily rained-upon roads. Today when I got up, I was sick enough that I couldn't make it to church and it's likely I'll be calling in sick tomorrow. Hopefully I can get well before my defense next Monday. If not, well, my "A" exam was also done under an illness induced haze.

Jordan’s stream shall not o’erflow me,
While my Savior’s by my side;

Canaan, Canaan lies before me!

Soon I’ll cross the swelling tide.

Joy kindly suggested I lay down for a nap while she took care of Hyrum when we got home. I hadn't been down long when our branch president (church leader) called. My good friend Evan Wade had "crossed the swelling tide." I still don't know most of the details, but apparently he skidded on the slick roads and crashed into a tree.

Evan "yes, I like putting odd statements in the middle of my name when I sign off an email" Wade came to Cornell the same year I did to major in Engineering. I'm not entirely sure why, but I decided to watch out for him that first year - help him get rides, encourage him in the church, and try to help support him going on a mission. I don't know that there was any real doubt of that happening, but I wanted to look out for him. He went on a mission to Finland and came back here, happy to see me. I still ended up giving him a lot of rides, which I never minded. He was set to graduate this winter, like me.

I home taught him for a year or so before he had met Cassie and I remember very fondly an evening he and I spent together while Joy was out of town, just talking about the gospel and his romantic hopes, and everything. I was so thrilled when he and Cassie announced their engagement!

We were home teachers together over the summer and for this year. The last time I saw him was home teaching the Browns on Wednesday where he praised Cassie, talked about how excited he was to be getting married and looking forward to graduation and life. I dropped him off, oddly enough, at our place where Cassie was waiting for him, gave him the traditionally overfirm handshake we had developed, and waltzed in happy to see my wife without considering I might not see him again. He was in the military and planning on spending a few months getting trained in submarines. He had an appointment to meet with them tomorrow. It seems God has other plans.

He loved jazz, played the sax, and while his voice wasn't the smoothest, he had an impressive range and power. We talked about music a good deal together. As we drove together the last time, I mentioned wanting to rent an accordian or a bagpipe from Cornell sometime soon so I could learn them. I wonder if he ever got the chance to pick up a piece by Hovhaness I recommended to him?

See the happy spirits waiting,
On the banks beyond the stream!

Sweet responses still repeating,

“Jesus! Jesus!” is their theme.

One of the greatest parts of the gospel is the knowledge that my wife, my son, my brother and his wife, and my parents are all sealed to me. That is, even death cannot separate us permanently. We have the promise that if we are faithful to our covenants, we can be together forever. A similar promise extends to our friends: "And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:2). Evan may not have been perfect (he was a bit of a flake), but he was a good man who was doing all he could to follow the gospel of Jesus. In addition to my grandfathers - Derrill One and Grandpa Straw - and the generations before them, I have the hope that I will find my good friend Evan "on the banks beyond the stream" to welcome me home.

Our hearts go out to Cassie and Evan's family! Joy and I have talked ever so briefly in hushed tones of what it would have been like for her had I passed on March 05. We pray for you all regularly and are assured that in time the Spirit will speak peace to your hearts, with solace and comfort that only God can bring. That's why His peace surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) - it comes despite and during our afflictions. How comforting it is to know that "all things have been done in the wisdom of Him Who knoweth all things" (2nd Nephi 2:24) and that God who knows the end from the beginning has said, "Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever" (D&C 122:9).

Oh, hallelujah! How I Love my Savior,
Oh, hallelujah! That I Do.
Oh, Hallelujah! How I love my Savior!
Mourners, you may love him too.


SMT Family said...

Derrill, I am generally a silent reader of your beautiful blog with Joy, but I wanted to express how touching your remarks were. When one considers the situation it is difficult to express how one feels, but you have found a manner that is comforting and helps us remember the eternal perspective. Thank you. Shannah Tanner

Angella said...

This is such tragic news! I'm so sad for everyone who is feeling this loss. Since losing my sister in August, I have a new perception of what it's like to greive over someone's death. I just have to say that I'm just so so sorry- especially to his family and Cassie. There are just no words to say in times like these other than "I'm sorry". Also, thank you for your tender words. They really touched my heart as I think about the loss of my sister. Thank you so much for your faith and example to us all.

Crystal said...

That song was beautiful. Thank you for this.

Grandma Jule said...

In the midst of life, and all its hassels and worries and pressures and problems, news like this hits like a bucket of ice water, and suddenly all those things that seemed SOOOOOO important fade into background music.

Thank you for reminding me, in such a gentle and sensitive way, that all this election nonsense and madness "is but a small moment," and will soon be behind us. And while we must continue to tend to the duties of today -- for hungry stomachs must be fed, and those who continue on must be comforted -- it is well to reflect on what *really* matters; on what we need to do first, should THIS be OUR last day on earth.