I wasn’t sure when I would write this. However, it seems that incredibly bad things have happened with people all around me. It has brought up a lot of painful feelings. So here it is. What really happened in the MTC.
I want to begin this story the day before the passing of my sister. You see, I was a zone leader in the MTC. We had an elder who was… to say the least… Very difficult to manage. He had his girlfriend in the MTC, suffered a lot of difficult things in his life… And well.. Didn’t really express his feelings in the right way. It got so bad that we had to sit and talk with him. I would like to say, however, he had so much love.
That night, when we made it to the dorms, we shut the door and let him know we needed to talk. At first he didn’t want to, but we were able to get him to talk. We allowed him to express all of his feelings that were inside. Afterwards, we began to tell him about our personal stories. We told him about the difficult things we had to go through in our own lives to help him feel not so alone. Well… I told him that I have to live every day on my mission knowing that I might not see my sister ever again.
That was the thing… Before my mission I had a strange feeling I would never see her again.. What’s worse is that I never said goodbye. I was afraid she would be mad at me.. She never even knew I chose to serve a mission. My sister was an amazing person.. It was just that… Towards the end of her life a lot of things changed.. She had changed from the person I knew and loved. Regardless of all of that… Not saying goodbye… Her not knowing I chose to serve weighed quite heavily on me for quite a while. Could things have been different if she knew? I wouldn’t ever know.
The day after talking to the elder things felt off. Things felt really off. And as I begin to write this part tears are streaming down my face because this is hands down the most traumatic experience I have ever faced….
The elders and I were at an early dinner so we could go to choir that night. We were singing “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer”. A man came up to us with my picture in his hand and asked if Elder Hulon was there. He took me over to the front with everyone and said that I had visitors. Well… It was in that moment I knew… I knew exactly what was about to happen. He took me to a room where there was my Mom and my oldest brother Spencer. I immediately said “mom!” as I went in her arms and started to cry… I asked, “what happened?” This was when she said, “Aprildawn is dead.” My legs became very weak and my mom had to hold me up as I wept… And wept.. And yelled… And wept…
After we spent a while talking, I was sent back to the missionaries…. Who were still waiting for me. I was given a picture of my sister that I clutched in my arms the next three days every where I went. I didn’t talk to anyone… I just sat in the hall… I just sat…. People passed by… And I just sat.. Staring… Crying… Wondering why.
No one knew what happened that entire day. I didn’t tell them until the evening. I asked my teacher, Sam Lew, if I could talk to everyone that night. He allowed me the time to tell them. I began by sharing this Video:<a href=“https://youtu.be/xdN8rfwW3SI”>Mountains To Climb</a>
I then told them that last night my sister had passed away. At this time I didn’t know why. I didn’t have to face the second part of the pain until I came home and was told what really happened. I told them my sister may not have been able to be saved while she was on this earth, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who can still be saved. I told them there are people out there that are just like my sister that need them and the uniqueness they carry. How do you inspire people after your sister died? How do you keep going? The answer? God. There was no way I could have survived any of that if I wasn’t walking with angels. I couldn’t have spoken to the elders in my district like that if I wasn’t held up by the heavens… I couldn’t…
So, what do you do? What is it like to have your sister die in the MTC? Well… Contrary to most opinions… It was the worst place possible to experience something like that. You are completely stuck… You have no way of knowing how your family is doing. You can’t have alone time… It was really hard… However, no one expects it to be easy. I went through all of the emotions. Even one night ended up in almost a fist fight, and shattered glass all over our bedroom.
How were things since that happened? I’ll tell you, they were not easy. In fact they were incredibly difficult. However, I made it… Kind of… Things continued to be difficult.. But I continued to move. Some days would be crazy hard and I couldn’t function. That was okay for me.. I could try again the next day. Things still get hard for me. I still have hard days.. But I move. I allow feelings to come, but I don’t allow myself to dwell in them any longer. Instead I do my best to focus on the good. I remind myself how amazing she was. I remind myself how she was my best friend when I didn’t have any.
The thing about loss… Is that you will never stop carrying that burden. It will remain forever. However, we know through the atonement that we can be with our families once again. One day I can hug my sister in heaven. I cope now by continuing to talk to her like I used to. I will spend time at her grave every week. I’ll show her new songs I’ve written. I’ll tell her about my ridiculous inability to find a girlfriend still. I tell her about my crazy stories. I tell her when I am sad. Just because she can’t talk back anymore, doesn’t mean she isn’t listening.
So that’s it. Dealing with loss? There really isn’t an answer. I wish there was. You don’t deal with loss… You just kind of… Move… And things get better. They really do. For a while I never thought things would get better. It was the atonement that pulled me up while I was down. It was the atonement that still carries me today. The atonement is what is carrying me back to the temple. It’s carrying my family. It’s carrying my two nephews.
God loves us so much… He sent his son to DIE and SUFFER for us. Trust me, if there is anyone who knows how you feel.. It’s him. Allow Christ’s atonement to work in your life. Henry B. Eyring says “Even acting on a twig of faith can allow the Lord to grow it.” this is completely true. You may feel alone at times.. But Jesus experienced a loneliness none of us could ever fathom. He did that so you can make it through the pain you are feeling? Why? Because the pain you feel MATTERS and it is REAL. However… You are meant to overcome that pain.
If you are, or have experienced loss…. I want to say I am incredibly sorry. No words anyone can say will ever make it better. The only thing that will make things improve will be relying on Christ’s atonement. I only know this because I lived it. The pain will never go away, but it will get better as you rely on that love. I love you so much. Keep moving. Keep growing. God loves you, and he hears you. God NEEDS you.
Thanks for reading.
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