“When you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small.”
(by Carrie Underwood)
I decided I want to start writing a blog because I have a lot of feelings swimming around inside, and I need an outlet for expressing these feelings. It seems like every time I go to church, I spend the entire 3 hours thinking about my little brother Zach, who left us just over 7 months ago. Every talk, every lesson, every comment made in church seems to relate to Zach somehow in my mind. I suppose it’s my own way of trying to find peace with it. Yesterday was a particularly emotional day for me. In Sunday school, we were discussing the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s from the Book of Mormon, who made a covenant with the Lord that they would never again raise their swords to kill another man. This act took an incredible amount of faith. They trusted in the Lord so much that they basically did not fear death. They knew they would be saved in Heaven if they stayed true to the covenant they made. This discussion went in several directions, but the point that hit me the most was the fact that these men ultimately gave up their mortal lives to show their dedication to and love for the Lord, and because of what they did, their enemies, the men who were slaying these Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s, were converted to the Gospel. The thought that resonated with me was the fact that they died young, and with their death, thousands were converted to the Lord.
Of course I thought of Zach. He died so young, but with his death, dozens of lives have been changed for the better. I look at my parents who continue to deal with the heartache of losing their child, and how they have dedicated themselves so completely to the Lord, fulfilling callings and spending hours in the temple, studying the teachings of our Latter-day prophets for greater understanding and peace, and so willingly helping others who are suffering. They have definitely grown spiritually and learned things they never would have learned otherwise. Of course, I had several spiritual experiences related to losing Zach, that I might share at a later date. I also know several of his young friends now have a completely different outlook on life because of who he was while he was here on Earth, and what he has done for them since leaving this life. The stories continue to pour in about how his presence is still felt, and he is still teaching those of us left here without him.
Another thing I have been contemplating almost daily is how important it is to treasure those we love and make the most of the time we have with them. I have also realized what is most important in life. With Zach being gone, I constantly find myself grasping for any little memory of him. Before this, I never really appreciated how much these can mean. Of all the things we can accomplish and own in this life, I am convinced that nothing is more important than the legacy and memories we leave behind for our loved ones. We need to take the time to create special moments with our children, our siblings, our parents, our dear friends. You will never regret time spent with your loved ones—only the time you did not. You will never regret telling someone you love them, but you will regret not taking the opportunity once it is lost to you. As I have learned, we won’t always have tomorrow to create those special memories. We have to do it today. I know we have to continue living our daily lives and supporting ourselves, but we can’t let the unimportant things get in the way of making the most of our lives, of making the most of our time here to grow individually, and making the most of the time we have to spend with those we love. Now that someone I love so much no longer has a “tomorrow” here on this Earth for me to look forward to, my biggest regrets are those opportunities lost to me, the ones I did not make the most of when he was here with me. I don’t know that that pain will ever go away, but I hope that it is never repeated, that those same mistakes are never repeated. It is something I will spend the rest of my life trying to do right with the family I have left, because, even though I do not have “today” or “tomorrow” with Zach, I do have today with them, and maybe if I can make it right with them, someday I will be able to forgive myself for not taking those opportunities with Zach in this life. And I sure look forward to having them when I see him again on the other side.