Thursday, April 16, 2015

What "Be Prepared" Means to Me

Please note that I actually wrote this blog post yesterday (Wednesday, April 15th), but I didn't have time to publish it because I was creating my typographic designs to go with it. :)

This morning began like every other morning: wake up at 7:00; wake up my uber-tired junior-high-aged children; take my thyroid pill with a huge glass of water; change into my favorite yellow and grey comfy-cozies; make my children's gluten-free lunches; drive my beautiful daughter and handsome son to school; breathe deeply as I drive home (I strongly dislike others' lame driving skills!); wake up my youngest sleeping child and tell him the weather report—so he can choose what to wear; eat a breakfast of champions (Frosted Mini-Wheats...my absolute favorite!); sit by my adorable baby boy on the couch for a few minutes while he watches NetFlix; check Instagram while my darling boy brushes his teeth; tell my sweet son it's time to leave for school; ask my Gregor if he's coming with us; drive to school; drive home, go inside, wish I could go back to sleep; put in my contacts; do my oral-cleansing routine; make Greg's and my bed look puffy and peaceful; call my sweet mama and talk on the phone with while I do dishes; hang up the phone; remove the yummy clothes from the dryer (Clean laundry is one of my most favorite smells ever!); switch the wet laundry from the washer to the dryer; watch a few minutes of a fascinating "House" episode (I absolutely l.o.v.e. that show! I would be completely thrilled to meet Hugh Laurie one day. I also love the fact that Mr. Laurie is still married to his original/first/only wife—and they have three children!)...

That's when things became not like every other morning: our home phone rang.

As I walked over to answer the phone, I thought about how I was surprised the phone rang because we don't usually get many phone calls during the day, and I had already talked with my mom. It was Greg's dad calling, so I gave the phone to Greg (he worked from home today). Greg and his dad don't talk on the phone too often, but they have a great relationship so I wasn't surprised he called.

Sadly, it wasn't the kind of phone conversation anyone wants to receive. Greg's dad said his (Greg's) Aunt Carol died suddenly from a heart attack this morning around 7:00. Even as I write that, I can't believe it's really true. Aunt Carol was the baby sister of Greg's amazing mom. Both of these wonderful, sweet, kind, funny and feisty women died entirely too soon. None of our family members were ready to see them go! I wish we would have been able to keep Anne and Carol until they were in their nineties! Sadly, I don't always get what I wish...

I found it highly interesting that just last week, I had a dream about Greg's darling mom. In my dream, Greg and I walked into a room filled with his immediate and (a few) extended family members. Some of them were casually sitting on a queen-sized white bed, and some of them were standing around. Everyone was casually chatting in smallish groups, but also together as a whole group. I looked directly at Anne and very surprisingly said, "Oh my goodness, HI!!! Can everybody see you?! Or, is it just me?!"—you know, because Anne is no longer with us. Anne smiled with her familiar twinkle and cheerfully said, "Yes, they can all see me too!"

In my dream, I realized what a special treat it was for us to be able to see Anne and spend time with her again. After Anne's and my initial conversation, everybody settled in, happily talking with each other. It was so awesome to just be in Anne's presence. Her entertaining personality was—as always—larger than life! Anne was just so delightful and fun to be with. In my dream we all joyfully conversed for a long time, but then I woke up. :(

Even though I was sad I saw Anne only in a dream, I felt so peaceful and happy! I knew this wasn't an ordinary dream. I knew it was a dream of comfort not only for me, but it was also meant for Greg and his family. The only problem was, I felt a little silly sharing my dream with his entire family because I wasn't sure what they would think. So, I only shared it with Greg and his sister when she "randomly" called me last Friday to chat for a few minutes. Remember though, there are no coincidences!

So this morning as I thought back to the happy dream I had less than a week ago, I realized that my Anne dream was helping prepare me for a sad today. Even though we are heartbroken to have to say goodbye to our lovely Aunt Carol—who also happens to remind us of Greg's splendid mother, Anne, we absolutely know that both of their spirits live on!

The only two positives I can think about today's news are: 1) Aunt Carol has been reunited with her beautiful sister, whom she dearly missed; and 2) Anne and Carol are with our Heavenly Father, and our Savior, Jesus Christ—and the rest of humankind who have departed this earthly life. Here is one of my favorite scriptures that mirrors my thoughts—it gives me little tears every time I read it!
"...[T]he spirits of all men [and women], as soon as they are departed from this mortal body...whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life." – Alma 40:11


No, dear readers, my happy Anne dream was not meant just for me. It was a beautiful reminder that even though our lives are relatively short in the grand scheme of things, we are not left here all alone. Let me repeat: we are most definitely not alone in our lives! No matter our circumstances, we have sweet, heavenly angels watching over each one of us, reaching out to us when we need them!

After thinking about this morning's life-changing events, I called my mom again. We chatted for a few minutes before she needed to attend to my nephew. I hung up and had a good cry about Aunt Carol. When I finished crying, I called my dad. We had a nice conversation that went on for quite a while. I made sure both my parents know how much I love them, and how grateful I am that they are still living healthily and doing so well. Life is such a gift! :)

Throughout today I've had recurring thoughts about being prepared. I've decided to expound on what "Be Prepared" means to me.

Being prepared usually implies we should have many physical objects that will enable us to continue living in the event of an emergency or a catastrophe. We talk of food storage, water, flashlights, soap, gas, generators, 72-hour kits, bedding, first-aid kits, clothing, shoes, medication, oral care, visual aids (i.e., contacts and glasses—not technology, ha ha.), sunscreen, health/life/homeowners/renters/auto insurance, etc. If we're talking about outdoor adventures, the be prepared list grows significantly.

I fully agree it's important to work on gaining emergency supplies for the benefit of our families and friends, but I see the most vital element in being prepared in terms of relationships, for they—and our memories and knowledge—are truly the only things we take with us when we depart this earthy life.

Yes, even though we don't know when the moment will come, we must daily prepare to meet our maker. Every one of us must carefully evaluate right now to see if we are doing what it takes to have confidence when meeting God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. We'll never know exactly when we'll be chosen to go to the other side, but just like so many of our family members, friends and acquaintances have done in the past, it will happen eventually. I can think of nothing more wonderful and worrisome than meeting our Heavenly Father, and Savior, so I hope we're ready for that amazing moment!

I think one of the most important ways to be prepared is by having a clear conscience in regard to our family relationships. We must never let a day go by without saying, "I love you!" to each other. We don't need to throw out a continuous barrage of "I love you...I love you...I love you!" all day long (reminiscent of Don Lockwood fake professing his love to Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain—one of my favorite movies ever!), for that would become tedious and the recipient might doubt our sincerity! Yet it is very possible through our actions, words, and deeds, to show our dear family members every day just how much they mean to us...how special they are to us!

Of course I understand that not every family relationship is a perfectly beautiful walk around Secret Lake, but it is possible and essential to never let our family members wonder of our love for them. :)

I loved finding these cute flowers to represent the "He/she loves me; she/he loves me not" idea. :)
Similarly, if we have family relationships that aren't so rosy, it's vital for us to find a way to put the past behind us, make amends, and move on. Forgiveness is a must in every family relationship! I know sometimes it might be hard to want to forgive our family members, yet that's when we need to pray for help—like we are going to meet our maker tomorrow. We must pray to have the desire to forgive those who have hurt us. I'm not implying we should ever allow ourselves to be put in harm's way, but I am saying we need to completely forgive, while simultaneously staying safe.

Once we have made every family relationship right, it's time to work on our other friendships or acquaintance relationships. When the time comes and we find ourselves in heaven, we should be ready to meet anyone we know—without a cloud of disappointment or regret overshadowing our reunions.

When those heavenly meet and greets come for me, I dearly want to have a crystal clear conscience. I know I won't ever be perfect here in this earth life, but I never want to bump into someone in heaven whom I haven't forgiven here on Earth. Obviously it's up to them if they choose to forgive me, but I'll at least try to ask for their forgiveness. That said, I know I have some work to do...it might take me a while to get there, but please know that I'll be actively working on my forgiveness skillz! :)

I'm filled with gratitude in the fact that my relationships with my departed family members were in excellent standing before their dear souls were taken home to heaven. Even though I miss them terribly, I have such peace knowing we're all good!

Even though I try really hard to consciously live my life in the moment, every moment, days like today help me re-internalize just how temporary and priceless our lives are! We'll never know how much time we have to enjoy with those most important souls we adore. I hope each and every one of us makes the very best use of each invaluable moment we are given!

P.S. Off to P90X I go—it's KenpoX day! *Because of our sweet Aunt Carol's sudden tragedy, I've decided I will never, ever, stop exercising until the day I die. Of course I won't exercise completely continuously—for that would be unhealthy for me to never rest, but I will definitely exercise enough that my body remains as healthy and strong for as long as possible! P90X Foreva'! Ha ha.

2 comments:

  1. Sorry to read about your Aunt's death. Praying for you and your family.

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    1. Thank you so much, Johanna, I appreciate your kind words. Sadly, we weren't able to attend her funeral, but we heard it was absolutely wonderful. Aunt Carol was such a great lady, and we will always be thankful for her life!

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