25 days ago, I learned that my friend’s 4-year-old daughter had been diagnosed, unexpectedly, with Leukemia. Overnight, the life of this incredible family was turned upside down. They struggled to adjust to hospital life, manage logistics for the other 5 children, and try to help young Eslyn regain her strength.
Just before 4 AM this morning, Eslyn passed away. After many struggles with treatment and medication, some good signs and some bad ones, her pain and struggles are over.
Following Eslyn’s story on the blog her parents started in her honor has had a larger impact on me than I ever could have thought. Every day was filled with so much hope and heartache on their behalf. Every evening, I found myself tuning out the world around me (for which I apologize to the friends from whom I withdrew my attention) to spend a few minutes reading the daily update on Eslyn’s condition. This morning, I woke up to an email alerting me to a post which had been titled “Final Day.” My heart sank, as I knew what that post would hold.
Today is a very solemn day. My heart breaks knowing that this trial has come upon one of the most amazing, Christlike families that I know. I can’t imagine how it must feel for them knowing they will never be able to see their beautiful daughter and sister again in this life.
Amidst the suffering, though, I find myself sitting here with a grateful heart. Not only do I know that Eslyn has been freed from her earthly pains and struggles, but I also have a knowledge of where she is now.
I am grateful that I have a knowledge of the Lord’s Plan of Happiness. I know that we lived with our Heavenly Father before we came to this Earth, and that we will be reunited with Him after we die, to be judged according to our works. I am comforted by the words of the Lord given to us through divine revelation:
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 42:46
And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.D&C 137:10
Even with this knowledge, it’s still tempting to ask:Why?Why does the Lord take away such sweet, innocent children who have done nothingwrong? They’ve hardly been alive long enough to have any of the experiences we are sent here to have.
The Prophet Joseph Smith provided a beautiful and inspired answer to these questions.
I have meditated upon the subject, and asked the question, why it is that infants, innocent children, are taken away from us. … The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.“Comfort at the Time of Death”, 2008
I am so grateful for the atonement of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who enables me to repent and be saved, who rescues and compensates each of us when we come to Him, and who provides the means for us to become so much more than we could ever hope to be on our own. I know that through Him, we will all be resurrected, as He was. I know that if we are faithful to the commandments which we have been given, we will be reunited with those loved ones who have passed on, and we can live with them forever through the sacred Priesthood power which can seal us to them for time and all eternity in the temple of our Lord.
Our Heavenly Father loves us. He has a Plan for us, and it is a tremendously beautiful gift to know that.