19 years ago today my baby brother Tanner was born. It was an exciting time. I remember his bith the most out of my siblings because I was so much older than him. We shared a room. When he'd cry during church I'd take him out in the hall and hold him until he fell asleep in my arms. He didn't learn to say a lot before he died but he did start calling me Titan. I didn't correct him. I'd lay in bed reading, he'd come in, climb up on my bed, bound up and down on my stomach and then leave. Five minutes later he'd do it again.
Earlier this month I visited a Phoenix area hospital. My sister-in-law was pregnant at the time with my newest nephew. There were complications so she was on bed-red and under the watchful care of specialized doctors. My little miracle of a nephew, Caleb, was born not too long ago.
As I stood in the hospital my mom mentioned that it was the same hospital, possibly the same floor where Tanner had died. It brought back the memory of it. I never doubted that God had the power to save Tanner from death. I prayed for the faith to accept His will. Perhaps for the first time, without saying the words, my prayer fell along the lines of "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief."
I remembered, and my mom mentioned this so perhaps the Spirit was working similar thoughts on both of us. I remembered how for my Eagle Scout project I helped organize a gymn full of people and together we made hundreds of quilts. Those quilts went to provide some measure of comfort to grieving families struggling as they watched their sick little ones fight for their lives. I didn't make the delivery but in a beautiful tender mercy, there in that place of life and death, I felt the grattitude of those families and of the little children that God had called home.
During that trip I learned from my younger brother Dustin the "rest of the story" about a family I had home taught. My companion was in the bishopric and we spent hours every month talking and teaching this family. They were awesome. I learned so much from them. That sister is part of the reason why I love traveling. The rest of the story: the son, who was a few years younger than me, served an honorable mission. He was sealed in the temple and was still good friends with Dustin. Somehow I had played a small role in that.
There was a family I hometaught. I didn't really visit them for very long in the grand scheme of things but I sure love them. I will always feel a strong connection with them. It has now been years since we moved out of that congregation. Yet my wife recently received a facebook message from our friend. Their children still talk about some of the things I shared while I visited with them.
There are eternal bonds of friendship that are formed through shared sacrifice, spiritual experience and Christlike love. God teaches us that the same relationships we form in this life continue with us after death and our resurrection. In many ways, I can't wait for that joyous reunion when time and distance no longer seperate me from my loved ones.
I remember two singular moments growing up. One, when I was a Freshman in High School, the homecoming king, captain of the football team and all around awesome guy made me feel like I belonged. He went out of his way, he remembered my name and he brought me in. The other, another older teen I looked up to treated me like an equal, like I mattered, like I was important. Those small moments were such tender mercies to me. I have tried to pattern my life after their example. I have tried to see the good in others, even when it took a while to spot it. I am not perfect, far from it. Yet I declare without hesitation that there is so much that is good and right and beautiful in this world.
I declare with Nephi, with Elder Bednar and with many others, that the tender mercies of the Lord truly are over all those whom He has chosen through their faith.
I learned a beautiful lesson. The day after my 17th birthday I prayed and asked to say goodbye to my brother. I felt I had never gotten the chance. The answer was no. I learned a powerful lesson that day and the Spirit has seared it upon my soul. Families are forever. Have no fear, don't you cry. No need to say goodbye. Don't you know the ones you love will always be nearby.
I share with you my knowledge the God lives. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. If we will look to God, we will live. I know this because the Spirit has whispered to my soul of its truthfulness.
I pray that whoever reads this may find the faith to allow God to bless their lives forever.