I wrote this post on Thursday, October 30th, just a few minutes after my dad called and told me my grandmother had passed away that morning.
I just received news that my grandmother passed away.
While I was surprised by the news, it wasn’t completely unexpected. Her health had been declining for the past several years, and she suffered a stroke several weeks ago that put her in the hospital for several days. Still, she was my grandma, my dad’s mom, and she was gone, and so I decided to look for a quiet place on campus where I could think and be alone.
I found the Joseph Smith memorial court, a lovely little outdoor area inside the Joseph Smith building with a statue of the prophet looking up into the air. Finding myself alone, I sat down, cried a little bit, then started thinking.
“Jason,” I said to myself, “I need to know if you really believe all this stuff. Do you really think that your grandma is still alive, in the spirit world, meeting her parents and brothers and sisters and maybe even Jesus, and that one day you will all be resurrected and live together again? Do you really believe,” I thought as I looked at the statue, “That Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, and that through Joseph Smith the authority to seal families together was restored by God?”
The response I gave myself was quick and solid. “Yeah, I do,” I said. “I know it’s true. I’ve asked if the Book of Mormon is true and received an answer—several times. I knelt down in this same courtyard a few months before my mission to ask if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and God said yes. I’ve felt Christ’s love, and seen His light, and as fantastical as it all may seem sometimes, I do know it’s true.”
I felt at peace. I still felt sad, but I felt at peace.
I pulled out the pocket-size copy of the Book of Mormon I always carry in my backpack and turned to Alma chapter 40. I read, “The spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”
As I read these words I thought about my sweet grandma. I remembered conversations that we’d had recently about her young adulthood, and about how proud she was of her children and grandchildren. I remembered the famous cookies that she used to bake by the hundreds, it seemed, for every family gathering. I thought of the legacy that she has left behind, a legacy of faith and obedience to God.
Then I turned back to Alma chapter 40 and read one more passage: “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame… And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.”
This morning my grandmother died, but death is not the end. Death is not an empty void; it is the turning of a page to a new part of life. I know that she is still alive, in the spirit world, and that one day I’ll get to see her again. It will be wonderfully glorious, that meeting, as we rejoice in the miracle that is life, and death, and resurrection.