When we heard that Tanya and Caleb had been in an accident and that Caleb had passed away, I was... well, shocked is too light a word. It was like being punched in the gut and not being able to breathe for that agonizing few seconds, which seem to stretch into minutes. I couldn't believe my eyes, so I re-read the e-mail just to make sure I hadn't hallucinated. A number of things, questions really, ran through my mind at lightning pace: How could this happen? Who was "at fault"? Could I remember Caleb's face? What can I do? How should I do it?
Then a thought came to me. This last week, in Relief Society, we had a lesson on Jesus Christ- the only name under heaven by which we may be saved. Elder Richard G. Scott related some personal experiences with the death of two of his children within 6 weeks of each other and the death of his wife 14 years ago. I recalled thinking to myself, "I can only pray that I never experience the anguish of loosing a child- in what ever circumstance." I'll reiterate that sentiment a thousand times more today.
I have previously been to 3 funerals- all of which I was a family member for: My Grandaddy- James Simpson in 2001; My Boonepa- Darrell Wardell in 2004; and Dolly Daily- my grandmother in law in 2008. I participated in the service for all of these funerals and I've always felt the comforting spirit present.
Tonight was different.
Never have I felt such a longing in my heart, a yearning and a desire to "bear one another's burdens, to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." The anguish in the faces of Tanya and Eric I will never forget- their grief I wanted to take upon me to give them respite even if for a moment.
I wish I could have been just sympatheic- then maybe I wouldn't have felt to struck by this event. But it is in my nature to be empathetic, and the sorrow I felt for and with them was almost too much for me.
However, at the same time, I feel a strange sense of peace. When my Grandaddy passed away, I felt peace almost immediately because I knew he had lived a full life, tried to live a righteous life, and so I was comforted. I felt similar feelings for my Boonepa. I felt happy for Dolly because she was 93 when she passed away, in her sleep- and we all knew it was going to happen- it was an expected death.
Caleb's death was not expected. The result of a tragic accident is NEVER expected. But the feeling of peace stems from the precious knowledge and testimony I have of the Plan of Salvation for the children of God. We will miss Caleb terribly. I feel certain his mother will have the most difficult time adjusting to the death of her first-born son- a boy who has passed into eternity. But the hope of a reunion is still there. The great day when Tanya and Eric get to meet their son and embrace him again will be the sweetest time for their family. And the life they have yet to live is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ- that we, through the sealing power of the temple, and in accordance to the covenants made therein, may remain bonded as a family throughout Eternity is the beacon light that draws the eye towards it in the darkness.
My humble gratitude to a Father in Heaven who has made all this possible I can only begin to express with my limited faculty, but my heart is full to overflowing.
Dear Caleb, your mother and father love you more than you could have known here. Tanya and Eric, my most profound love and support to your family during this most difficult time.
The nation is mourning the passing of a great Senator- and I am mourning the passing of a sweet little boy who was excited to be a cub scout- and now cannot be.