I’ve been thinking a lot about how to write this post. Twice in the past three years, one of my closest friends has unexpectedly lost their older brother, with whom they were very close both in age and as friends. My friend Shawn lost his brother, Todd, July 3rd, 2015 and my friend Gary lost his brother Dave a couple weeks ago. Both of their brothers were in much better shape than me. I knew them both and looked up to them. They were both dynamic and outgoing people.
I knew Shawn’s brother Todd as an adult and had got to meet him several times and considered him a friend. I knew him even better because of how close his brother Shawn and I are, and I had heard hundreds of stories about them growing up. It was a shock to everyone when he passed away in his sleep. As a friend, you don’t know what to say. Your heart is breaking for your friend and their family. I think the best you can do is just be there. It’s impossible to find the right words. Luckily, I lived close to Shawn and was able to visit him.
I knew Gary’s brother Dave better as a teenager. I looked up to him and had often wished that I had an older brother like him. I have always wanted an older brother. My friend Gary looked up to him a lot. He was a great example to all around him. Dave tragically collapsed while hiking with some Boy Scouts. Unfortunately, I now live too far away to visit Gary or to have attended the funeral. Words are inadequate to express your true feelings. (ironic coming from a blogger, I know). But me typing out a few words is simply my attempt to convey the feelings of my heart. From a distance, I am trying to find a way to do as Alma taught, to be “willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” Mosiah 18:9
I’ve thought a lot about Dave and Todd these past two weeks. My heart aches for my friends, for their family, for their parents, and for their children they leave behind. For Dave, he leaves behind a new grandchild, his first actually. Neither death was expected. Neither one made sense. You some how just have to put faith in God and know that His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
It has made me reflect on my relationship and love for my younger brother Nick. I guess you can’t know what it is like unless it happens to you. I would be devastated to lose my brother. I hope there are no unsaid words that I wish I would have shared with my brother when the time comes that we part from this mortal existence. Nick is quite a bit younger than me, and we have different fathers, so we weren’t close in age. But I’d say other than that, we are about as close as brothers can be. When we moved to Washington, I was really sad that I would not be around him as often. He is one of my closest friends. I secretly want to convince him to move up here, but my mom and other family members might never speak to me again. I have had many fun times with my brother, and I want many more to come.
I think my brother is a great father and probably a better son to our mother than I am. We don’t agree on some things, but I love him and would do anything for him. He has a great family and his kids are close to my children which makes me very happy. When he was young, I would drag him all over the place in my 1975 Chevy Nova. On the weekends he’d beg to go out with me and my friends.
My younger brother Nick was a good sport and was even one of my two best men at my wedding.
Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith had a very close relationship. I’ve often found a kinship in their relationship and my relationship with my brother. I love the statue in Nauvoo, IL showing them as they were about to go to Carthage and would ultimately face a mob and be killed there.
Here is a better picture of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
There is much wisdom in God organizing us here on earth into families. We have a love for our family that is special. We love those whom we serve, and we serve each other a lot in families. We also learn a lot from each other in families. Alma, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, commanded his son Corianton to counsel with his brothers and to be nourished by his brothers, and give heed to their counsel. (Alma 39) When the Brother of Jared, another Book of Mormon prophet, who lived during the time of the Tower of Babel, had their language confounded by God, he prayed to the Lord that He would not confound the language of him and his brother before he prayed for anyone else. (Ether 1:34-35)
I’m grateful to a wise Father in Heaven who has given us families. I believe families are meant to be eternal. When I say that Todd and Dave left behind people, I mean that in a sense similar to how a fast car can leave behind a slow car. It might get out of sight. It might be out of sight for a long time. But it is not gone. I believe that after death, we continue to live, just not in our mortal bodies. Our spirit lives. I believe we will have a joyous reunion with those who have passed on before us. And there, like the fast car, we can wait at the rest stop for the slower cars to catch up. One day, we shall all die. One day, we shall all be resurrected thanks to Jesus Christ.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints September 23, 1995 shared “The Family, A Proclamation to the World” This proclamation explains the importance of the family and how the family is so important, it is ordained of God. I will post the whole proclamation below. I know it is true and came from the mouth of the Lord’s prophet. At the time it was given, the living prophet was Gordon B. Hinckley.
I love my family, all of them. I love my wife, my children, my brother, my father and mother, my step and half brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws, and all the extended family. They are all a blessing to me. Each of them is part of God’s plan because we are all children of our Heavenly Father. We are the offspring of God. We are His children, making us all brothers and sisters.
I’ve told both Gary and Shawn at different times that I am so deeply sorry for their loss. I’ve prayed for them both. They’ve been in my thoughts. I am sure that the feelings we feel here in mortality are felt on the other side of the veil. I am sure Dave and Todd are sad to leave behind so many people whom they love. The knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the surety of the resurrection, do not make the loss of a brother easy, but I think it gives hope. I love these two friends as brothers. May God bless them and their families.
A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD
The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.