[This was my talk from Charlie's Funeral, which details my last day with him.]
This view makes me so happy. I look around and I see people who love us and love Charlie! In the Bible, in the book of John, the Savior taught his Apostles that he would not leave them comfortless. He would send them the Comforter to abide with them, or he would visit them as well. I testify to you, in this moment, that amid what is an unimaginable loss, we have felt that promise come to life. We have felt the comfort of the Holy Ghost with us. And though the Savior has not come to us, He has come to us through all of you.
We have witnessed armies of people working and serving on our behalf, some of that service we will never know the extent of.
A few years ago, an Apostle of our church, Elder Bednar gave a talk in General Conference titled, “Tender Mercies of the Lord” in which he defined the scriptural references to tender mercies as the “very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from, and because of, and through the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We have seen these tender mercies in abundance in the last week. Today I wish to speak about one of the tenderest mercies that I have been given since Charlie’s passing, and that gift was a crystal clear rememberance of my day with him before he died.
After finding Charlie lifeless in his bed, and fumbling through what you can imagine was horrific fear, I almost instantly felt myself being carried through the day with peace and direction. My mind was filled with happy events of the day before with my Charlie boy. Each flashback was like a gift, hand delivered from God.
I had remembered how I woke up feeling happy. As a mom, I admit that I don’t always go about my tasks with a smile on my face. But that day felt different. I made the kids lunches. I remember taking great care to balance all the food groups just perfectly, but not forgetting to sneak in a little treat, too. I remember Charlie scooting down the stairs and everyone greeting him as they always got excited to do. He had recently learned how to turn his round doorknob to let himself out and he was always as proud as could be when he would finally escape. We sent the big kids off to school. We had a day with nothing on the agenda. I had hoped to get some cleaning done, but I didn’t have plans errands or appointments or the gym. I got a text from my friend asking if I wanted to go on a bike ride. I now believe this was special inspiration she had to text me. I am not always the type of mom to set aside my duties to play with my kids, but for some reason I responded “yes, that sounds like a blast!” I told Sam and Charlie to get ready for a bike ride and they were ecstatic. Charlie loved to ride his bike. He had a little yellow Strider bike that he was just learning how to pump and glide on. He rode that bike or his blue truck at any chance he got. And it was usually barefoot. We ran into the garage and gathered our bikes and helmets and rode around in the street while waiting for our friends to arrive. I can remember watching Charlie with such focus. I was absolutely tickled about his new bike tricks. I just thought he was the cutest. When our friends arrived, he protested a little when I switched him from his own bike to the bike seat on mine. I scooted forward so that he could see his friend, Elyse, and he let me buckle him in. We rode to the park first where we played and spent some time on the swings. He was so darling. I can hear his laughter now with every upswing. He was having the time of his life. We then rode a little further to the duck pond. All the kids took turns feeding the ducks bread and chasing them around. I was talking with my friend Emily about life plans and our futures. I again remember looking at Charlie with such a different focus. He was standing at the edge of the pond watching all the ducks. There were these little yellow flowering water blossoms all around him. I wanted to pull out my camera, but for whatever reason I felt more like living in the moment. We continued our ride back home and I can’t remember much how the conversation started, but we were talking about motherhood. I said to Emily, “Isn’t it strange how motherhood works. We yearn for peace and quiet, or some time alone without a thousand questions and interruptions, yet we know that when it is all gone, we will miss it desperately.” I feel like that moment of conversation was helping me appreciate even more my role as a parent, and particularly a mother. It was the most idyllic and heavenly morning. Again, like a gift that Heavenly Father knew I would need the next day.
The rest of the day was really not much different. I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies for the kids when they got home from school, just like June Cleaver would do. Charlie and Sam were both busy helping me. Which means they were picking more than mixing and spilling more than measuring. Charlie loved to scoot a chair up to the counter when we were cooking. But again, the moment was out of the norm…cookies after school were not unheard of, but certainly not the usual.
The feeling in our home was peachy. The kids sat and did homework obediently. I sat with them and chatted about the day. Nobody was fighting or ornery. It was just perfect. Lucy was being helpful and Jack was playful with the little kids.
I took Jack to a playdate and scurried off with only Charlie to do a quick grocery run. Just he and I. Before going into the store, we sat in the parking lot making our list. He climbed all over me while I wrote. I loved having him there alone with me. In the store he started to protest being strapped in the cart, so I unstrapped him and let him sit in the big section of the cart. That seemed to make his day. In fact, I had two mini watermelons I was buying. He took an entire watermelon and chucked it over the cart leaving a wet explosion in the store. Instead of feeling annoyed or frustrated, I picked up the drippy watermelon in my hand and was laughing to myself thinking how darn adorable he is. We gave it to the store employee and went on our way.
As the evening approached, I could tell he wasn’t feeling well. He started to get fussy and wanted me to hold him. When troy got home I had him sit with him for a minute while I got some Advil and a warm bottle. I took him in my arms as I always do, pausing at the bottom of the stairs for him to say his famous Nigh Night to everyone. I put him down for the night.
We had a sitter that night so that we could meet briefly with our church leader, President Harrison. When we walked into his home, the Spirit was so palpable. Everything from the way they greeted us, to the warm lighting, to our conversation, to the music, was just special. I believe it was where we were supposed to be. Troy and I then ran to Pinkberry for a treat, and had some very in depth conversations about our kids, family, and plans for the future.
We got home and put the other kids to bed as we always did. We had no idea our lives were about to change forever in the morning, but I know with a certainty that God knew and that he prepared us in the best way He could by increasing our love for our children in a way that we would only recognize after.
I miss that little stinker more that words can possibly express. We all will. I will miss the way he needed me. I will miss our quiet moments together. I will miss him doing all the things that used to drive me nuts. Like our Jack said, “He was a cool little dude.”
We feel intense pain and sadness when we think about the void he has left, but the miracles and tender mercies we have felt have been innumerable and have assured us that it will all be okay. We look forward to the day when we will see him again. Until that day, we will be faithful. We will be doing all we can to live with him again. I know that God lives. I know that we have a Savior who knows us, who carries our burdens when the load is too much to bear.
We love you Charlie boy. Momma loves you.