Dated April 27, 2008 ~ Sunday
(about a month after Josh passed away)
It's Josh's birthday. I'm glad I have another tender mercy to share. It's the one that Lorri Cummings shared with us in the Celestial Room of the Provo temple one week after Josh passed away. She had talked with me briefly about it earlier too and it has sustained me in knowing (not just hoping) that Josh is okay, that he is happy and surrounded by love.
A day or two after Lorri found out that Josh had passed away, she went to the temple. During the session, a prayer was said and it was requested of the Lord that those in the company who had questions, would have them answered. As those words were spoken, Lorri felt the Spirit, incredibly strong, swell in her heart. Over the next few minutes she pondered that and she didn't understand why there was such a strong spiritual witness for her during that part of the prayer because she didn't come to the temple with a question to be answered. A little later, as she sat in the Celestial Room, she said in her heart, "Okay, Heavenly Father, I do have a question. Who is with Josh?"
Quite unexpectedly, a vision opened up to her and she saw Josh standing amongst many, many other spirits. There was my mom, Patsy, on the right, with others beside her and behind her that Lorri did not recognize. On the left were Enos' parents, Mary and Bruce. Lorri later acknowledged she was surprised that they did not appear to her as she had known them ~ elderly ~ but rather, they looked younger. Lorri saw standing beside them Enos' aunts and uncles who had passed away and many, many others behind them who she assumed were ancestors.
Lorri said the whole focus seemed to be on Josh. Everyone was present to celebrate him, to welcome him, to express their love for him and their joy in having him in their presence. The best part was the expression on Josh's face.
The night before Josh's funeral, during the viewing, our little video with pictures taken throughout Josh's life was playing on a large screen in the next room. When Lorri saw one particular picture of Josh, she said, "That's how I saw him." It was the only picture that matched in detail the smile that she had seen spread across his face, with no reservations, no inhibitions, just pure joy in his expression. His eyes are lit up and he is beaming.
There is a story behind this picture. Enos was behind the camera snapping pictures like crazy. I had just given Josh a haircut ~ normally a pretty tramatic experience for him and therefore, me, but somehow, Josh seemed to believe us this time when we had complimented his good looks. He had made several trips to the mirror and had come back each time trying unsuccessfully, to hide his grin.
Enos decided to document this happy haircut in hopes that a month or two later it would discourage Josh from letting his hair get too long and shaggy. So, out came the camera. Enos had him slowly do a 360 as he took pictures of every angle, all the time gushing out praises on how handsome he looked. Pretty soon, Josh was hamming it up and Nathan was egging him on. There were lots of giggles in the kitchen and Enos captured it with his camera.
Now we have a picture that represents to us Josh's happiness in the Spirit World. Thanks to Lorri, we have a glimpse into how many people will be edifying his life.
In some ways, time seems to be a trial to us now, like the years that stretch out between now and when we embrace Josh again are a gorge seperating us. Each step through the gorge and up the next hillside seems too long, too slow. But knowing that Josh is not waiting sad and alone at the top of the hill will allow us some joy in the journey we have left. It will allow us to still notice the wildflowers along the riverbed and hear the birds perched up in the trees. We will miss his steps beside us, his hand in ours, his voice and giggle in our ears; but he will be in our hearts, as evidenced by the ongoing tears in our eyes.
I love you Josh, forever and always. We will give you a great celebration on your 13th birthday following the morning of the first resurrection.