Friday, February 8, 2013
Bearing the Unbearable
It's been a full, full week. The Best Loved Family has been transplanted Arkansans for nearly 20 years. In all that time we've been members of the Benton Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We've come to love this group of people and in this congregation we've watched our children and our friend's children go from diapers to adulthood. Today we, and about eight hundred others buried our friends 22 year old daughter, Alesa. We are a lay church and her father serves us currently as our Bishop. She was a missionary for our church, assigned to the Oklahoma City Mission and she was "posted" to a small town in north west Oklahoma. In a sad accident, she was struck by a pickup truck last Friday night while walking her bike and died on site.
On Saturday, the word spread through the Ward. We were in Home Depot, buying kitchen cabinets when we heard. It seemed strange to be doing something so mundane. She was the same age as our youngest boy. In a weird fluke, they were the only ones in the Ward the same age and were always in the same classes. Her family had four girls and then finally a boy. We had three girls and three boys. We always joked that we wanted one of their girls for a daughter-in-law. In truth, if we lived in a different society we would have sent the baba to their house to negotiate. We would have had to bring quite a few goats, and at least one cow as we wouldn't have been the only ones. When our youngest son was about 9, only half in jest we said that it looked like our older sons weren't going for the older Smith sisters, so our baby boy would have to marry Alesa. "I don't want to marry Alesa" he said, "she hits me with her scriptures in Sunday School". I'm sure he deserved it.
We "Mormons" love our missionaries. There are 60,000 world wide. Many of our children serve 18 months or 2 years at their own expense and are assigned all over the world. We feed dinner to the ones that are assigned to our area and greet any we find wherever we go (and buy them dinner) just like they are our own kids, because in a real way, they could be. Even so, I was amazed by the outpouring and support from our entire 14 million church membership. Elder W. Craig Zwick, a General Authority of our church, was sent from Church headquarters to preside and speak at the service. The accident has been front page on Church news and websites. For us, this was a big deal, but to our congregation Alesa was our own beautiful girl. Her parents and siblings our dear friends. In spite of great faith, our grief is great and her family's even greater.
We have a scripture:
"Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious Resurrection. And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them. " D&C 42:45, 46
There's been a lot of love, and weeping.