Monday, January 28, 2013

A Tribute To My Hero


This is one of those things that simple words won't even do justice. Long overdue, yes, but I've been struggling for a while on just how to say this. But it all comes from the heart, and that's what matters.

I've often learned that you don't realize just how much you need something until it is taken away from you. It's sort of something I just learn over and over and don't really get used to. But when something you need is taken away from you, it's the only thing that matters to you. What's the only thing you think about when you're choking? Air. Trust me -- it's the only thing going through your mind, because that's all that matters to you and you want it back.

For the past four weeks, only one thing has mattered to me because it was something I lost and couldn't get back. I know I distanced myself from a lot of my friends, for reasons I can't really explain, and I'm sorry for that. Hopefully this post will be something like an explanation for my behavior, but in reality, it's just a tribute to one of my heroes.

Four weeks ago tonight, I realized just how precious one person was to me when she was suddenly taken from my life, and ever since I've been trying to cope with the fact that I have to live the rest of my life without her in it.

This is my dear Grandma DeVona. She was my absolute hero.

On December 31, 2012, she passed away, just one short week after having come and spent Christmas with my family. I'm so grateful that I got to see her that one last time.

I miss her, a lot. I miss her more than I've ever missed another human being, and I know that I'm going to miss her more as time goes on. With all of my other close friends who are gone right now, whether they're at school or on missions or whatever it is, I can always tell myself that I'll see them in a few months, or a couple years, but I can't say that about my grandma, and that's really hard. With my other friends, I can always skype them or text them or write them, but I can't do any of those things with my grandma, and that is also really hard.

The thing is, if I know DeVona, and it's hard not to know her, to be honest, she would probably tell me to "quit your damn whining." Haha. I can totally see her saying that right now. Anyways, she wouldn't want me to complain. We didn't even have a funeral for her -- we basically threw a party instead. Granted, I cried a lot at that party, but I ate food and hung out with my family and we called it a "celebration of life" because she wouldn't have had it any other way.

My Grandma DeVona was one of the coolest people I knew. A lot of who I am today comes from her.

She had such a unique, awesome personality. She was a health wizard, so just about every time any of us got sick the solution was usually something that she had come up with. She didn't like doctors, which is something I've inherited from her. She loved the color purple. Whenever I see the color purple now I can't help thinking of her. She knew all of the tricks about cleaning, haha, I remember she would always wash her dishes before she put them in the dishwasher. I feel like I'm really starting to inherit that cleaning gene, too, so that's something my future husband can look forward to. She told the funniest stories. I could listen to her tell stories for hours, and they would all have me laughing so hard I was crying. She was the pickiest eater I know, which is another thing I inherited from her. But she pulled it off!  I always figured that anything she was willing to eat was probably safe for me to eat too. And she always made the best Divinity I will ever have. She was 4' 9", so shortness was definitely something I inherited from her, but she could easily have someone 2 feet taller than her cowering in fear. She was quick witted and smart, and you knew not to mess with her. She was always meant to be the ultimate test for my future husband. He had to gain her approval. If he could appreciate and love DeVona like the rest of us, then he was a keeper.

However, the thing I loved most about my grandma was her heart. Her love for her family was such an inspiration for me, and I could always tell that she cared about us so much. She was able to comfort me at times, in her own way, for things that maybe nobody else really could. I am going to miss, so much, getting little packages from her with homemade Rice Krispy's and stuffed with Emergen-C packets. My heart breaks knowing that I won't get letters or packages from her on my mission, but takes comfort knowing that I now have the best guardian angel in the world.

I am going to miss going up to St. George to stay in her awesome house, with the great view overlooking the Virgin River and all of her little "critters" on the cliff side that she would feed every morning. I'm going to miss all of her witty comments, all of her funny stories, all of her health advice and getting to see her every Christmas. I wish I had gotten to play Canasta with her, I wish I had gone to St. George more often to visit her, and I wish I had gone to Benjas with her and swam in her pool. I wish I had called her more often, and I wish I could have told her that she was my hero, and how much she meant to me. I wanted so badly for her to meet my future husband, I wanted her to come to my wedding, and I wanted her to play with my kids and I wanted them to grow up knowing her. I always thought they would.

And I also suppose they will. I don't know exactly how heaven works, but I believe that she's up there with them right now, and honestly, she's probably teaching them how to swear. But there is no way my kids won't grow up at least knowing about DeVona. I also know that she'll be with me in the temple when I get married, and if I'm about to marry someone she doesn't approve of I can almost guarantee she'll probably come to me in a dream or something, pissed off, and set me straight.

I know she'll be there every step of the way, watching over and protecting all of us as we continue with our lives, as we go on missions, as we get married, as we have kids of our own. I know as we all begin to take these new steps in our lives that she'll be there for all of it, leading and guiding us in ways that perhaps she couldn't have done if she were still here.

Through all of this, I've turned to the scriptures, which have often been a source of comfort and peace for me. As I've read and pondered and tried to see what to make of this, I realized that my own, personal testimony of the Plan of Happiness is what I've been holding onto. Just that knowledge that I will get to see her again, and that I know she's not gone forever, has really kept me from going absolutely insane. It was then that I realized that the Atonement isn't just for our sins. Christ died so that we could all live again. All of us. Because Christ died, I have faith that I will be reunited with my family again.

That is incredible.

That has brought me so much strength. As I've thought about this, I've realized that more than ever now I have a reason to serve a mission: to bring THIS light to people who don't have it. I want people to know about Christ so they will know about the Plan of Happiness and they will know that we will all be resurrected and that death is not the end, but just the beginning of another incredible journey. I hope this experience will be able to empower my testimony as I take it to the people of the world.

Finally, I can't help crying thinking of my incredible family: I love you all so much, and even though we are all suffering, seeing everyone try to uplift one another despite their own individual pain has been absolutely incredible. In the past few weeks I have seen the most selfless acts of service I think I've ever experienced in my entire life. You all are an inspiration to me.

A day or two after my dad got home from the hospital, we watched Lord of the Rings: Return of the King together, and this quote at the end had us both in tears:

"Farewell, my brave Hobbits. My work is now finished. Here at last, on the shores of the sea... comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil."

Grandma DeVona, you have been an inspiration to my life. I have grown up absolutely idolizing you, and you have left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten. As I look at our family, I know that you have influenced all of us in so many ways. Each of us carries a part of you -- your personality, your knowledge, your stories, and your love. I will always miss you, but I cannot wait to see you again.

Thank you for being my hero.

All of my love,