1. Always say 'I love you.' You know how you sometimes get those subtle promptings? A passing thought that could easily be dismissed? The last time I saw Zach will be forever ingrained in my memory. I was getting ready to drive back up North after visiting for Thanksgiving, and Zach didn't come to say good-bye. This kind of hurt my feelings, and my prideful side wanted to just walk away. However, I had this distinct thought come to my mind: "He needs to know that you love him." So I went back and gave him a hug, and I told him that I loved him. That was the last time I even spoke to him.
Every time I get upset with Jeff and feel like storming off, I remember that day. I may need some time to cool down, but I make sure to tell him that I love him. I also never leave the house anymore without kissing my family twice, just in case. I never want them to doubt that I love them.
2. One day, tomorrow will not come. I know this is kind of a depressing thought, but this became a reality to me when Zach died. You think you will always have 'tomorrow' to make things better, to right your wrong, or to say 'I love you.' Someday, that will not be true, so take advantage of having today. Make sure that when the end of the day comes, you do not go to sleep with any regrets. I have so many things I wanted to do or say with Zach, and I can only hope that he knows what is in my heart, because those opportunities are lost to me in this life now.
3. Everything I have ever been taught about Heaven is true and real. My dad has had some incredible dreams and experiences with Zach. I will not share any of the details, but they have taught me that our spirits live on beyond the veil. They have taught me that the spirits of those who have passed on are engaged in an incredible work. Zach may have not been able to serve a mission here on earth, but he is serving an eternal mission now. I also learned that he is happy to be where he is at and doing what he is doing. This thought brings me peace.
4. We are all entitled to personal revelation. When Zach died, my dad gave me a blessing that I would receive the answers I was seeking in a way that I needed. I did not realize how quickly those answers would come. I had a dream that same night about Zach. I was in my parents' basement, and Zach suddenly appeared in front of me as an 8 year old. He told me in this dream that he was happy, and I told him that I loved him. One thing I distinctly remember is holding onto his hands for dear life. I would not let him go until I knew that he was happy, and he knew that I loved him. Once this was accomplished, he left.
5. I know what the power of the Atonement feels like and what it can do for us. During this time, I felt the power of the Atonement, as well as the power of the prayers being offered in our behalf. I knew that I should be falling apart, because that is what I always thought would happen should I find myself in this situation. However, it didn't happen. I felt peace and reassurance. I felt hope. I felt strength I didn't know I had. I asked myself how this was possible, and the answer came that my Savior was holding me up, helping me to do something I never thought I could do. I wish it did not take something this tragic for me to feel of this magical, incredible gift, but I am grateful I know firsthand what the Atonement can do for us. I am also grateful that because of what Jesus suffered for us, this life is not the end. We have much to look forward to in the next life.
6. Zach loves me. Zach has miraculously found ways to let me know that he loves me, and the he is still around. There have been the tender visits from him. I have never seen him, but I have definitely felt him: A warmth and love that could only be him. Then there was the time that I opened an old journal one day, and found a note from Zach that simply said "I love you. ZP." My mom also found an old email, that I still have, where he told me he had fun visiting me, and that I was 'the best sister.' Last Christmas, we found an old book of Zach's. A diary, I believe. He wrote about me several times, and how he missed me (I was at college), and how excited he was for me to visit. It reminded me of the special relationship we shared growing up, which was something I needed to remember.
So, even though I do not get to see him, he has taught me more about Heaven, miracles, and the importance of family than I think I could have learned on my own. I will always be grateful to him for leaving this legacy and gift behind. He is my angel. The song I chose today reflects my feelings about where Zach is, and my gratitude to my Savior for making it all possible.