Through the long hours of the night, I kept a lonely vigil by the nursery window. Inside the nursery, a tiny boy struggled for breath. The day before, we had rushed nearly 160 kilometers from our ranch to the hospital. The baby was born shortly after our arrival, six weeks premature. He looked like a fine, healthy boy, but the doctor told us that his lungs had been slow in developing and that he was fighting a desperate battle for air.
A few hours before, I had given Matthew his name and a father’s blessing. As I had blessed him, the Spirit had assured me that he would someday be a part of our family.
Little Matthew continued to cling to life until his mother was able to come to the nursery to see him. He died before we left the room. It seemed to me that he had only waited for her to have one look before he returned to his heavenly home.
The shock of our son’s death left my wife in such a daze that she could not cry. It was only after the small graveside service, when we had returned home to the ranch, that she was finally able to release her grief. She wept for a long time.
The emptiness of losing a baby after those long months of expecting him was very hard on her. She wasn’t really happy again until the next baby, a fine healthy boy, arrived.
As the years passed, we were blessed with many children. They grew up feeling that Matthew was as much a part of our family as they were. One of our children, the oldest, has felt an unusual closeness to him and has at times sensed his presence. Once, while traveling to work through a storm, she felt him with her, watching over her. One night she awoke and saw a young man standing by her bed. He seemed to sense that she could see him, and appeared to “melt” in the air like a burning film. This experience frightened her, and she prayed to know who the young man was. A few years later, she again felt Matthew’s influence—when her sister-in-law lost a baby and needed comfort and understanding.
Not long ago, one of our sons was married in the Idaho Falls Temple. We had assembled in the sealing room for the ceremony when the sealer asked me and the bride’s mother to bear our testimonies before he performed the marriage ceremony. As I spoke, I noticed that my oldest daughter was sobbing. Later, outside the temple, she told us that as I stood to speak, Matthew had entered the room accompanied by so much spiritual power that she could not control her feelings. As she was about to leave the room, lingering behind all the others, she had felt something warm touch her shoulder. A still, small voice had whispered, “That was your brother Matthew. He is the one who stood by your bed one night.”
The peace and joy this beautiful experience brought to us is inexpressible. What comfort there is in knowing that we are important to Matthew and that he cares about what we are doing, and to know that God loves us and has let us feel Matthew’s presence so that we can have that assurance.