It has taken me longer to write this than the funeral itself...and I also go off on little paths that aren't funeral related...so to help this along...if it goes directly along with the funeral program, I have written them in blue. Everything else is just my mind doing it's "all over the place" thing.
Yesterday Todd, Tammy, Kelli and I all attended the funeral of President Gordon B. Hinckley (Tonya has a calling in the Church's hostessing department and had a few extra tickets last minute). The emotions I felt and the things I saw made me want to be a better person. The funeral was such an incredible experience, I knew that I just had to write it down.
We arrived at 10:05 and were surprised that there weren't lines of people and that the seats weren't already filled to capacity...but then again grateful. It meant we got to have a good seat (any seat in the conference center is a good seat). However, I am certain that this must have been one of the largest audiences of any funeral ever.
A little before 11:00, the monitors began to show the procession of vehicles and the herse carrying President Hinckley's body on it's journey from his home to the Conference Center. Silence came over the congregation as we watched the cars enter the building (yes...they drove right into the building...how cool is it that they made the halls wide enough for cars?).
At that moment, I began to miss Hawaii. You see, while Todd and I were living in Hawaii we clung to the gospel. It was our link to friendships and the family that would take care of us while we were thousands of miles away from our own. My testimony grew in leaps and bounds during that season of our life.
Not only that but I craved seeing the apostles and prophets. I took forgranted, while living in Utah, the incredible opportunities I had to see these living apostles and prophets at General Conferences and other meetings. During our five years in Hawaii we had the privilege of attending, in our own home ward, meetings where President Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, James E. Faust, and others whose names I have forgotten of the different quorums of the seventies. President Hinckley came twice and we even saw him once at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
I couldn't have imagined, while living in Hawaii, not doing everything in my power to see this living prophet and his apostles. Everytime they spoke, the power of the spirit would overwhelm me (and I am sure everyone else in the room). I felt as though the prophet knew me and loved me, even though we had never spoken.
It makes me consider how it must feel to be in the Savior's presence. He is the one who has comforted me in my times of sorrow and loneliness. I know that He knows me and hears me...I can only imagine how overwhelmed (that isn't even the word to describe it)I will feel when I meet my Savior and my Father in Heaven.
Oh, sorry...I tend to ramble a lot. Back to the funeral services.
Anyway, missing Hawaii and the opportunities given to hear our Prophets voice, the gratitude for President Hinckley began to swell in my heart (and my tear ducts) and I started weeping. About this time the Quorum of the Twelve had entered the building, and standing as immovable walls on each side of the path to the conference center, protected and buoyed up the Hinckley family as the walked in...with smiles on their faces.
Because of this gospel and their knowledge of it, President Hinckley's passing was just the next step in our plan of salvation. It brings such peace to me to know that he is with his adorable wife and other family members who have already passed on.
President Monson, in his sweet story telling voice conducted the meeting. He has such a kind and loving manner about him. The mantle that has just been placed upon his shoulders must be heavy. I was talking with Ken and Todd yesterday about that mantle. Todd was amazed that these men can take so much upon themselves at their age. And asked "How do they do it?". I had the most amazing answer that came to me and I shared it with them...
It is the same way a woman can handle being a mother. Heavenly Father blesses you with this miraculous ability to do things you could never do before. There are weeks that can pass and I will function just fine with only three hours of sleep at night. How is it that I can still manage to keep the house clean, the children dressed, study my scriptures, do my creative things, fix meals, change diapers, keep a smile on my face and still love my family? It is a miracle...our Heavenly Father helps carry the weight of it all. Even though you can't see them, we secretly given eight arms, two heads, eyes in the back of our heads and 5 hearts...we do it. I am not meaning this to say that I always do these things without an emotional break-down here and there...they happen too.
All the music was performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The first song they sang was "My Redeemer Lives" written by Gordon B Hinckley and the music by one of his mission companions. They also performed a song called "What is this Thing Called Death." I just learned that Janice Kapp Perry wrote music for it as a dying wish for one of her nieces. After it was written, she submitted it to have it authorized as a hymn.
There were tears shed, moments of laughter and reflection. I learned more about our Prophet and loved him more than I ever had in my life.
At the end of the funeral program, they asked that we remain in our seats until the family had left the Conference Center. During that time they played a movie showing clips of President Hinckley's life. I couldn't peel my eyes away and the tears never stopped. I needed to leave to pick up the kids from the babysitters (thanks Laurissa...the exchange worked out perfectly for me, sorry you had to take care of five kids on your own) but I just couldn't leave in the middle of the best movie ever!
The strongest feeling I left with was the desire to change. I want to be a better person. I want to live as honorable and loving life as President Hinckley. I want to love my Toddy they way he and Marjorie loved each other. I want my children to know that they are not only loved by their parents unconditionally, but a Father in Heaven. I want to be better.