My name is Craig Jenkins, I live in Alpine, Utah. My wife Lorna and I moved to Alpine from Dallas Texas in 1988.
On May 1st 2014, Lorna was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (non-smoking). The Doctor told her that with therapy she had 10 to 12 months to live, without therapy 6 months. Having spent the previous year watching a friend go through chemo, therapy wasn’t an option. She passed away about 4 months later on Sunday morning August 24, 2014.
Comparatively few people knew of her diagnosis. She asked me and our children not to tell anyone essentially putting us oder a gag order. Lorna’s brother and sisters didn’t know until the evening before she passed away. She didn’t want people asking her the “how, what, why” questions. When the Bishop announced in Sacrament Meeting that Lorna Jenkins had passed away that morning, he said there was a audible gasp from the congregation, then the tears started flowing.
That Sunday afternoon and evening, and throughout the week, friends and neighbors were stopping by offering their condolences and asking the “how, what and why” questions. She was in Church last Sunday, today she’s gone? Whats up with that? (Even to those that knew, she didn’t look ill.)
Monday evening, I was visiting with friends who had stopped by when our Stake President Buzz Butler, with his wife Lynn rang the door bell. Katie, our youngest daughter, answered the door. She asked him for a blessing. They stepped into the office and he gave her a blessing.
In the blessing He told her that it was her mothers time to go, that she could have chosen to stay, but in Gods plan, it was her time to go. (In a blessing to Kurt her brother a little later in the evening, Kurt was told that his “mothers ability to bless her family was now uninhibited”.)
Toward the end of Katie’s blessing he said “your mother is here, she is in the room with us, she is standing right in front of you”. He said a few more things that she doesn’t remember, then closed the blessing. He told her to stay there as long as she liked, he had to go “talk to your dad”. He turned out the light, and closed the door. Katie was left expecting to “see” her mother.
From Katie’s journal:
“So, there I sat in the office chair in the dark with my mother in the room. I had the initial thought that this could be a special experience. I began to question if I had the faith to have a special experience. I now realize that I thought I needed faith to see her with my physical eyes.
I began looking at an empty chair in the room, anxiously waiting for this special experience. I sat for about a minute, then realized I had no idea what to expect, so I said.
Mom, I’ve never done this before, I don’t know what I’m doing. (Then I glanced at the empty chair and asked). Am I going to see you? (Then the words came to my mind) No darlin, there is the veil. So I glanced up toward the ceiling and asked; do you float? I’m not floating. Ok, ok, that was a silly question. Will I feel your hugs? I don’t have a body. Okay Mom, will you show me how I will feel you? At that moment, simultaneously I heard words in my mind and I felt warm! Like really warm in my chest, and the warmness was full of life and energy. I heard my mothers loving voice say; I am a spirit, and I will enter your spirit, and will speak words to your mind.
I sat in that office alone, yet not alone. It was an incredible experience that I hope to never forget”.
Shortly after Lorna passed away I woke up one night really warm in my chest. I threw the covers off. Still really warm. In my mind I tentatively asked “are you here”? The warmth intensified, Lorna was there.
I call these love notes. I have been keeping track of “Love notes” in a journal. I’m at 56 and counting.
Daniel H. Ludlow a professor at the Y in his BYU Education Week Presention in 1998 quoting President Joseph F. Smith: “Our fathers and mothers, brothers sisters and friends who have passed away…may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing…messages of love, of warning, of reproof and instruction to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.”
In a First Presidency message, he added; “…it is reasonable and consistent to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond…can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them…We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever.”
Elder Charles A. Callis (Apostle 1933 to 1947) added: “We believe that there is consciousness of the spirit in the life hereafter, between death and the resurrection…Death does not congeal the lips of those who go before us; they are not far from us and they help us more than we know.
Some years ago, I read the book “The Message” by Lance Richardson. It felt pretty good to me when I read it. I know now, that it is spot on as to the order of heaven as to how loved ones minister and communicate with us. Ludlows education week presentation, as he quotes statements from apostles and prophets (in addition to my personal experiences) verifies to me what is written in “The Message”. I’ve given a number of copies away in the last 17 months and strongly recommend it to anyone who has lost a loved one.
In our Ward Fast and Testimony meeting in June of 2015 a sister in the ward who has pancreatic cancer bore her testimony. She said they were praying for a miracle. As she said that, immediately into my mind came the words “The miracle in our family was that Lorna died”.
The past 17 months have for me and our family been, for the most part, sweet, tender and sacred. I suppose “bitter sweet” is the right word. Sweetness tinged with sadness. The evidence of Lorna’s presence, love and support is undeniable. We have been introduced to and embraced that “order of heaven” that allows loved ones to minister to those of us left behind. In our case a wife and mother and grandmother.
Our Daughter Calli in a face book post on the one year anniversary of her mothers passing wrote the following:
Sunday August 24th 2014 could have been a day that broke me beyond repair. Growing up and thinking about my mom dying young was a thought I really couldn’t even think it created so much fear and pain in me. On this day a year ago my “normal” was forced to change, I was no longer going to see her pull up in my driveway to come say hi or to take me to lunch. I was no longer going to be able to call and talk to her everyday on the phone, or hug her. I was never going to see her in her beautiful body again.
This new normal hurts sometimes and has taken a lot of courage and faith to be ok with. This day a year ago was not however the last time I have felt my moms love for me, it was not the last time she gave me advice on how to love her grandchildren, it was not the last time she shared beautiful insights with me. It was not the last time she comforted me and made me feel like only your mom can that everything is not only going to be ok but it is going to be great. On this day my mom left her beautiful body behind but she did not leave me. I was just forced to figure out a new normal with her. A new way of communicating with her and a new way of feeling her.
This past year has been one of the most sacred, love filled, learning and growing years of my life. My life is so much more full due to this experience. Full of love and heartbreak, fear and peace, miracles, growth and a gratitude and awe for Gods love of each of us. I’ve realized he can’t force his love on us we have to choose to allow him to love us in all our imperfectness. His love is unending and truly is unchanging. I love you mom.
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