Cami felt her mother’s arm around her shoulders. As she wiped away more tears, she couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the cemetery was. The warmth of the sun felt good on her swollen eyes and calmed her as people came across the grass to hug her and her family once more.
“Give yourself time, Cami,” Sister Bowen, her Primary teacher, said. “These things take time.”
Cami nodded without really listening. She was thinking about how strangely peaceful it was here. It was like those pictures of Easter morning she had seen in Primary—the beautiful flowers, the smell of the lilac bushes, the breeze in her hair. It was very different from the hospital room where she had watched her father take his last breath. There, it had been like another planet with a room crowded with people who loved him and didn’t want to let him go, everyone softly crying and hanging on to whomever stood nearby.
“It isn’t supposed to happen this way,” she thought. “Dad was much too young to die. Dads aren’t supposed to die when you’re only ten years old.” But he had died.
She saw movement from the corner of her eye and looked just in time to see a white bunny and then a speckled one hop and stop, hop and stop from behind a gravestone, their noses twitching in the air. Then they scurried safely under some bushes.
“Are you ready to go, Cami?” Mom’s voice was tired. “We’ll visit here anytime you want to, sweetheart.”
Cami nodded. But as she rode in the car with her brothers and sister, she wanted right then to turn around and go back to the cemetery. Home reminded her of Dad when he was alive. Home made the sadness seem too huge to hold. She thought of Sister Bowen’s words, “These things take time.”
“How much time? How can I survive till then, whenever then is?” She forced herself to think good thoughts. Thinking about Jesus, about His Resurrection, and about the promise of her dad’s resurrection helped.
At home, she just sat all afternoon, not sure of what to do or how to feel or of how long before the next tears would fall. “Will I ever stop crying? What will it be like to have birthdays and Christmas and go on vacation without Dad? To have dinner, to go to church, to have family prayer without Dad?”
As evening came, the sadness seemed even bigger. She didn’t feel like praying, but she went ahead anyway, in her heart.
“Please, Heavenly Father, help me. I feel so sad and lonely. I know that I’ll see Dad again. I know that Jesus was resurrected after He died, and I know that someday Dad will be resurrected, too. But that’s someday. What about now? How do I get through today? Please help me know what to do to stop hurting so much.”
As Cami ended her prayer, she heard Mom calling everyone together for family prayer. Without even thinking, she went to Dad’s bedroom closet, pulled down his Sunday jacket, and put it on. It was gigantic on her ten-year-old body, but it was Dad’s. It felt like him, it looked like him, it even smelled like him. She pulled the collar up around her face and took in a deep breath. She felt safe. Now she could feel like he was near during family prayer.
When she went into the living room, the rest of the family was already kneeling. They looked up and stared at her. She didn’t care. She just went to the couch, knelt, and bowed her head.
No one started to pray, so she peeked to see what was happening. Her family was gone—but just for a minute. One by one, they came back. Her big brother had on Dad’s slippers. Mom had on his robe. Little Jimmy clomped in wearing Dad’s big shoes, and her older sister had on Dad’s favorite sweater.
Everyone knelt as Mom began to pray. She thanked Heavenly Father for the beautiful funeral services and for all the love that friends and neighbors had shown them. She thanked him for the good memories with Dad. And she thanked Heavenly Father that they could feel Dad close by.
It wouldn’t be easy with Dad living in heaven instead of at home with them, but for now—for tonight—with something he had worn close to each of them, waiting to see Dad again would be a little bit easier. For Cami, it was like being wrapped in his arms—just for now.
“The knowledge … that God lives and Jesus is the Christ and that we have an opportunity to be resurrected and live in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, makes it possible to endure otherwise tragic events. This … brings a brightness of hope into an otherwise dark and dreary world. It answers the simple questions of where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.”
Elder Robert D. Hales
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
From an October 1996 general conference address.