RebekahH

Over the last couple of days I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I am doing since the passing of my best friend, Rebekah. I really am doing okay. Let me explain why.

Rebekah and I met over a year ago when she and her family attended services at my church, a Loveland congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We spoke briefly in the hall way, mostly about the challenges of raising strong-willed children. I saw her a couple of months later on Labor day. I was holding the door of our church building open for my family when she approached. She asked if I remembered her, which of course I did. I am sure there are very few people in this world who are capable of forgetting Rebekah. I invited her to sit with our family which she did. I did not see her again until after she had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in early October.

Six weeks earlier, Nicole, a friend of mine from high school, had discovered that her breast cancer, thought to be in remission, had progressed to Stage IV. I don’t know a lot about cancer and the different stages, but I knew enough that I did not expect either Rebekah or Nicole to recover. I think this expectation would bother anyone, but it meant something a little different to me.

Both Rebekah and Nicole had young children. I knew what it was like to be a single parent. I knew what it was like to lose the father of my children. I knew that the future their families were facing would be extremely difficult. I was determined to help, and hoped that by the time they passed away their families would continue to allow me to be a part of their lives.

My efforts help Nicole’s family were not as successful as I would have liked. Because Nicole lived I was not able to visit her as frequently as I would have liked to. I had a strong desire to share my religious beliefs with Nicole. She had expressed concerns online about what would happen to a person when they died. However, for some reason, I was too afraid to talk to her about my faith.

When I learned of Rebekah’s diagnoses, I decided that I would not make the same mistakes. I visited her frequently, and when I did, we talked almost entirely about religious subject. I set up a “Meal Train” for Rebekah and her family just like Nicole’s friends had done for her. When Nicole passed away the day before Thanksgiving, my efforts to serve Rebekah increased.

Unlike Nicole, Rebekah knew exactly who God was and I was amazed at her faith. She did not blame God for her illness, and continually expressed hope that God would miraculously heal her. I believe in miracles and had seen a number of them in my life and so this point, I supported Rebekah’s hope with all my heart.

I had recently read a book that talked about the miraculous healing of Lance Armstrong, the cyclist. He was given only three months to live. If I remember correctly, the cancer had spread throughout his body just like Rebekah’s had, and yet he is now cancer free. That man had gone on to make some pretty bad choices. If God could heal a man like that, He could heal Rebekah. I wasn’t 100% certain of my new outlook, because I know from personal experience that God does not always answer our prayers in the way we want Him too. But I was no longer 100% certain that she was going to die, either.

Four weeks ago, I celebrated my 40th birthday by throwing myself the biggest party I could. Even though Rebekah’s health had taken a turn for the worst, she attended and thoroughly enjoyed herself. This was the first time my family had met my new friend Rebekah. I was not prepared for their reaction.

Both my father and my sweet mother-in-law asked me about Rebekah in hushed tones. Their words supported my optimism, but I could read the concern on their faces. Their looks said, “We know your friend is dying and we are worried about you.” At first, I was angry at their lack of faith. And then I became upset. What if they were right? I really had to do some soul searching that weekend.

At the time, I had been focusing my scripture study time trying to find more information about how the Atonement (what Christ did for us) and the Gospel of Jesus Christ could help us overcome the effects of a dysfunctional childhood. I felt that I had been healed but I knew so many other people who had not reached that point yet and I wanted to help them. I had discovered a list of talks (articles) the one of our Church leaders had created for people in that situation and I was gradually reading the talks on that list. However, after my birthday party, it seems everything I read talked about how Christ could help us overcome trials, including the death of a love one. I decided that God was trying to tell me something. I knew then that Rebekah would not be with us much longer.

Because of the things I had just read and my previous experiences, this knowledge did not bother me as much as it had just a few days before. Because of the death of my first husband, I had spent a lot of time researching that topic. I knew exactly where Rebekah would be going, and what she would be doing when she got there. I knew that she would still be interacting with those of us she left behind (See Eternal Perspective post). I knew she would be happy and peaceful there.

I know I’ve mentioned this teaching before, but I’m going to quote it again because it is important:

“Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer, whose Atonement not only provides for salvation and exaltation but also will compensate for all the unfairness of life.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook, https://www.lds.org/liahona/2011/11/the-songs-they-could-not-sing?lang=eng

http://www.dictionary.com states to compensate means to provide or be an equivalent; make up; make amends. The Savior cannot return Rebekah to us, but He can make up her loss to us. He can make us whole again. As I’ve mentioned before, I know this is true because I’ve seen this in my life and the lives of my children after the death of their father. I have also witnessed miraculous healing power of the Atonement, as I was finally able to let go of the negative feelings I had for my mother just weeks before she passed away. Once again, I was healed and made whole.

I also know this is statement is true because God has written in on my heart through the power of His Spirit. I know this is true just like I know that the sun will rise tomorrow. Christ can heal any hurt. It just so happens that this time He chose to heal me before I lost my friend, not after.

Trust me. When I say I’m doing well, I mean it. Rebekah’s in a better place. Her family is going to be okay. I’ll miss her, but I’ve gained valuable experience and new friends and family members to love through knowing Rebekah. I’ve already been compensated for my loss.

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