The Measure of a Miracle


The serene look on my mother’s face convinced me that I’d witnessed one of the greatest miracles of all.

A few years ago, my mother was diagnosed as having a malignant brain tumor. Despite the crushing news, my father, a firm believer in miracles, insisted that she could recover if our family exerted the necessary faith. We prayed fervently, and Mother received many priesthood blessings, but her condition steadily deteriorated.

Desperate yet undaunted, Father continued to attend the temple daily. As I stood at the window and watched him leave for the temple early one morning, I remembered an evening years ago. I was sixteen, and from the front porch I waved good-bye to my parents as they left to go to a funeral for their friends’ son, a boy struck by a car while riding his bicycle. How could anyone accept losing a child? I wondered.

Suddenly my little brother interrupted my thoughts by skidding his bike to a stop, scattering gravel in front of me.

“Stop that!” I yelled. “It will be a miracle if you live to be ten!” Of course, I knew he wouldn’t need such a miracle—surely Heavenly Father loved our family too much to ever allow my only brother to be taken.

A month later my brother was thrown from a horse into Mother’s petunia bed. Thinking he’d suffered only a little bruising and a bloody nose, I was devastated when my father told me late that night that my brother had died from a head injury. My world caved in, and for months I mulled over the painful question, Where was the miracle?

I also recalled how, a few years later, our family was blessed with a miracle when Mother survived the removal of her first brain tumor. Technology then wasn’t what it is now, and we knew Heavenly Father had answered our prayers by sparing Mother’s life.

I turned away from the window, thinking about miracles: Who is entitled to them? Are they granted strictly by faith? How, exactly, do you measure a miracle? Then I thought of my mother. She’d lived happily and productively—a full life—and now, some thirty-five years later, she had another brain tumor. She seemed to be slipping away, and I wondered if there could be another miracle in store for her.

On 22 August 1990, just three months after Mother’s surgery, I visited her. My tears fell on her cheeks as I kissed her. For what would be the last time in this life, I told her I loved her. The serene look on her face as she passed away convinced me that I’d witnessed one of the greatest miracles of all. Because of the reality of the gospel and Christ’s resurrection, I knew she was smiling again, embracing all those loved ones who’d gone on before.

I still don’t know how you measure a miracle, but it no longer matters—miracles happen with every breath we take. And sometimes the best miracles are not in living, but in going home.

[illustration] Illustrated by Keith Larson

Lois Lamb Reeder serves as a Relief Society teacher in the Hyde Park Third Ward and as stake music director for the Hyde Park Utah Stake.