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Friday, November 18, 2011

Morgan's Funeral - His Mom's Words

I just received this from Morgan's grandfather....

"To all those that weren't able to attend Morgan's funeral yesterday, here are the remarks of his momma:

"The first thing that needs to be said today is: Thank you. Thank you to all of you angels in the audience that have helped ease the tremendous burden that was placed upon our shoulders. Victor and I have stood in awe and wonder at the amount of generosity that has been shown us from friends and strangers. There really are so many good people in the world. It definitely has been humbling to be the cause of so many prayers and the center of so much service. Alma, in the Book of Mormon, says those desiring to be baptized into Christ’s church should be 'willing to bear one another’s burdens that they may be light; yea, and willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.' (Mosiah 18:8-10). Thank you to all who have acted as the Savior would in bearing our burdens, mourning with us, and comforting us.

"As I have pondered over the life of my son over the past couple days, one word kept coming to mind: Patience. I think most mothers of little boys may also have this word come to mind as they think about their children. The patience to not overreact when they climbed under the barricade to get to the 'closed' flamingo exhibit at the zoo, patience to clean poo out of underpants for the hundredth time, patience to remain calm when they’ve taken a pencil to an original oil painting, patience to remember that a car is just a thing when they’ve carved an original design into the passenger door with a rock. However, Morgan has taught me so much more about patience than the typical toddler escapades, and it’s an interesting pattern that surrounds his birth and also his death, a pattern of patience and of faith.

"Victor and I were married in 2005, but decided to wait a couple years to have children so that we could graduate from college, get jobs, and save a little money. Then in January of 2007 we decided it was time. I remember how daunting the idea of children seemed at first to both Victor and I. We still felt fresh out of college and lived on a meager salary in the expensive suburbs of LA. We only had a little two bedroom apartment, and I wondered where we would put a baby when I needed a room for a painting studio. I wrote down some of our fears in my journal:

'Victor says, 'Once you have children, there’s no going back.” And it’s true, and it’s a big change and it will never be just Jinny and Vicky anymore, and it’s kind of scary. So Victor and I decided to pray for courage, and … received it. Heavenly Father said, 'Don’t worry, I’ll take care of your every need' and I know He will – He always has before. And it’s true – once we go for it, there’s no going back, but I just keep thinking once we go for it – we won’t want to go back. So the days of birth control have ended and the waiting for Victory Morgan has begun.' – January 17, 2007

"Little did I know then the wait that would then follow, my mom had always gotten pregnant really easy and I figured it would be the same for me. However, month after month continued without any luck, and it seemed each month stretched out a little longer than the last. I wondered if God really wanted us to have children, then why wasn’t it happening? My journal was full of questions, and I found myself really having to submit to the will of the Lord. I had to trust in Him and His plan and His timing.

"Now I believe firmly in the ability for us, as God’s children, to receive inspiration from Heaven regarding our daily lives. April came and I was going to visit my mom in Utah, I asked God if I could be pregnant for the trip so that I could tell my mom in person that she was going to be a grandma, I felt the warmth of the Holy Ghost confirm to me 'yes'. I was so excited I ordered a cookie jar for my mom because she had always talked about how she wanted to always have a full cookie jar for her grandkids. But alas, just days before I left for the trip I started my period, and the tears started to fall. I think more than anything I was sad about feeling let down by heaven, I had been so certain that God had confirmed my desires, and then it didn’t happen. I found this letter in my journal, written to my older brother Joseph that helps describe my feelings:

"I had it all planned out in my head. I would find out just before going to Utah that I was pregnant, mom’s vintage copper cookie jar would have come in the mail the day before I left, I would have found the perfect time to give it to her, and say, 'Do you want your Mother’s Day present early?' and then she was going to burst into tears and laughter at the same time as she opened her gift. And then we were going to hug and laugh and talk about buying cribs! But, I guess that’s not the way Heavenly Father had it planned. And sometimes it’s hard to let go of those perfect little scenes we’ve put together in our head. But the good news is, I’ve found in past experience, that when our little dreams get dashed to pieces, it’s only because Heavenly Father has a greater one in mind.

"(Matthew 7:11 says, 'If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?') …I think about how excited I get to give somebody something, or how mom would get so excited to give us Christmas presents that she would give it to us early, and that would kind of ruin the gift. Like the time mom bought me an Espirit orange puffy vest for Christmas … and she was so excited to give it to me that she had me try it on in like October, and then she said, 'Oh well you better just have it now, and I’ll get you something else for Christmas.' Well, thank goodness we have a Heavenly Father who has given so many gifts that He is perfect in the giving and in the timing. He knows just what to give and when to give it. So even though I may not be pregnant NOW, … the good news is (I) will still have the gift someday… just at the right moment. And so for the time being, as we spoke of yesterday, we will just have to be perfected in the waiting. Perhaps little Victory Morgan needs a little more time to prepare…”

"Several more months went by and I tried not to let thoughts of motherhood consume me. In October we gathered to hear the words of our church leaders in what is called ‘general conference’ one leader by the name of Spencer J. Condie gave a talk that spoke right to me. He referred to the story of Rachel in the Bible:

“'You will recall how Laban beguiled young Jacob into first marrying Leah and then Rachel. “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (Genesis 29:31). And Leah bore Reuben, then Simeon, then Levi, and Judah. Meanwhile, Rachel remained childless (see Genesis 29:32–35).

"'With ever-increasing envy and mounting desperation, one day Rachel explosively demanded of Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). Leah subsequently bore two more sons and a daughter.

"'The Apostle Peter testified that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering” toward us (2 Peter 3:9). In this age of one-hour dry cleaning and one-minute fast-food franchises, it may at times seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold or filed them under the wrong name. Such were the feelings of Rachel.

"'But with the passage of time, we encounter four of the most beautiful words in holy writ: “And God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22). And she was blessed with the birth of Joseph and later the birth of Benjamin.'”

"In my journal I wrote:

“'I felt as Brother Condie spoke the words, “And God remembered Rachel” that (God) would also remember me. He did remember me – and this very talk was evidence of it. I don’t know when the Lord will decide to open my womb, but eventually he will.” (October 8, 2007)

"Then in November my mom was coming to visit, we were moving out of our apartment into a rental home and my mom was coming to help us with it. Just prior to our visit, I found out I was pregnant. When I told Victor he was going to be a dad, he started to cry and said, 'Oh Baby, you get to give your Momma her cookie jar.' He held me for a long time with his head on my shoulder so I couldn’t see the tears of joy that continued to run down his face. God had fulfilled His promise, and not only was I going to be able to tell my Mom in person, but I was going to now have room for a nursery and a painting studio.

"Morgan was born three weeks early on June 10, 2008, and he truly brought so much joy to Victor and me. We loved being parents, and Victor and Morgan took an especial liking to each other. Even as a 12 month old baby, Morgan would stand and cry at the door when his dad went to work, and then race to give him a hug when he came back that evening. Morgan and I loved to go places: the park, the grocery store, Target, and the library. We both got cabin fever really easily so we always tried to be outside doing something.

"One of my favorite aspects of motherhood is teaching, and watching my children learn. Morgan was a quick learner, and the older he got the more he surprised me with his intellect. I remember the day he was around 20 months old, and I was pregnant with True, and we pulled up to a Target parking lot, and the babe in the backseat started saying, 'T! T! T! Nook a T!' I couldn’t believe it! So I bought alphabet letters for the fridge and alphabet blocks, and alphabet coloring books. He had an uncanny obsession with letters and soon learned the whole alphabet and the sounds they made and would point them out on signs as we walked around town.

"I’d like to share a funny experience from my journal that happened on one of our outings together. Shortly after True was born I decided to brave running a couple errands with both the boys. I took them to a park, then the mall, and then to Staples to get a few school supplies for Victory (yes I was feeling quite heroic).

“'I had True in the stroller and Morgan running free. Morgan discovered a little ball on the floor of the store and was SO excited about it. “Ball! Ball! Ball!” He’d say and then giggle as he watched it bounce on the floor. I figured he’d just found some kid's left behind toy, but upon closer inspection at checkout I realized it was a soccer ball pencil topper. I asked the clerk how much it was – Morgan was in love with it! He didn’t know and left to find out. He came back and told me I couldn’t buy just one – they were part of some “fill the container for $5.99” thing. “You mean it will cost me $6 for this stupid thing?” I told him to forget it, but that sent Morgan into panic mode, “Ball! Ball! Ball!” I told him we were going to find another ball – there had to be another ball in the store for less than $6 right? (I honestly was surprised by the coldness of the clerk! Who wouldn’t just give the eraser to a two year old in tears?) So we set off looking for a better a ball. True started to get fussy – we had to act fast! I found a pretty neat rubber band ball for $3, but Morgan wasn’t interested. Then Morgan spotted the “Fill the Container for $5.99” display, and a whole lot of little pencil topper erasers! “Here they are! Balls! Balls! Nook, here they are!” Morgan said. He was so excited – I knew there was no turning back now. So I grabbed a stupid container that was cleverly divided into four quadrants so you couldn’t fit more than 3 or 4 erasers in each one! And you had to be able to put a lid on top! This was ridiculous - for $6! I tried to fill the holes with paperclips, but I felt like the kid at the ticket counter at Chuck E. Cheese who only gets a couple bouncy balls and a few paper clips for 600 tickets! But the excitement on Morgan’s face as he realized he could have not one bouncy ball soccer ball pencil topper eraser, but FOUR was so worth it! It was a good day. The whole way home in the car he was ecstatic! Even after his afternoon nap, he woke up and the first words out of his mouth were, “Balls?” So Victor’s been learning about “opportunity cost” in his economics class, and sure I paid $6 for a couple of cheap erasers from China that probably cost Staples pennies, but the joy it brought Morgan was priceless. Can you buy happiness? For a two year old you certainly can!” (August 26, 2010)'

"Morgan was all boy. He loved cars, trucks, and trains. Thanks to his Grandma Harmer he quickly obtained a vast Thomas collection, and could tell me the names of each of his 50+ engines. He loved to run, and would often say to me as I was attempting to cook dinner, 'Wanna play chase Mom? Come on! Come on! Chase me!' So I’d put down my spatula and we’d take a couple laps through the kitchen and the living room and he’d always burst with giggles as we did so. Morgan loved being outside. We moved in with my parents in August of 2010 so Victor could go back to school and he LOVED working out in the yard with his grandma. He loved getting dirty, and he loved throwing rocks in her pool and fish pond.

"Morgan also had a softer side, he loved to give hugs to his brother True and he loved to cuddle up with his dad to watch Cars for the hundredth time. On Sundays when I would get ready for church, I’d put on a dress and Morgan would say, 'Mommy you’re a princess. Wanna dance?' He also would point out in the mirror as I put on my make up that, 'Nook mommy. We have the same green eyes. Dad and True have blue eyes, we have green eyes.' He also was a great Mommy’s helper and would often help me with the dishes, laundry, or baking bread or muffins. He also loved to color and paint with me, he even oil painted a couple times and called it 'Goo painting.'  He also loved to watch the BBC Earth series and would point out all the different animals to me. His favorite episodes were 'water' and the 'jungle', and when we moved to Ensenada this summer he actually thought our backyard was a 'rainforest,' and he’d always say, 'Let’s go play in the rainforest, Mom.'

"Morgan was intense, inquisitive, and always had something to do. He was my side-kick for the past three years and made my life truly full. So you can imagine the shock that ran through my body as I faced 'every parent’s worst nightmare' on the morning of September 26th. It all seemed so surreal, like a dream, that in a moment or two I was going to awake from. And yet from the very first terrifying moment, I immediately felt the help of heaven and a strange calm. I knew that God was aware of Victor and I, and I knew he was aware of Morgan. I felt constant reassurance from heaven whisper, 'He’s going to be fine. He will be made whole.' Over and over again I replayed my favorite scripture in my mind, from the Book of Mormon, the 5th chapter of Helaman, verse 12:

“'And now my sons remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation. That when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless woe because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall.'

"I knew the only way I would be saved from the 'gulf of misery and endless woe' the horror of every parent’s worst nightmare was through faith in Jesus Christ. He had been the rock I had built on, and He would continue to sustain me. The 6 ½ weeks that followed were some of the toughest in my life, because of the nature of Morgan’s brain injury, most of the doctors and neurologists didn’t have a lot of concrete words for us. Most of the time we just heard, 'wait and see.' I felt so desperate for help from Heaven, my Spirit was stretched in ways I didn’t think possible. And yet even in my darkest moments I heard, 'Look unto Me in every thought; Doubt not, Fear not.' And as I continued to do so I was blessed with the 'Peace that passeth all understanding' that Paul spoke of.

"I was reminded of the faith and patience that surrounded Morgan’s birth, and thought it interesting that Morgan was teaching me about faith and patience all over again.  This time on a deeper level. I knew that if I just continued to wait upon the Lord, he would answer my prayers. We all learned something of long-suffering and trusting in God even when we can’t possibly see how anything will be right again. Watching Morgan struggle was heart wrenching, and yet I was often called to remember the Son of God who suffered for us all that we might be freed from sin and from death, and I came to know Him better in the process. I kept looking at Morgan and wondering when he would be freed from the prison his body had become. I prayed that the Lord would deliver him. Then on November 12th, Morgan was freed. It didn’t happen the way I anticipated, but I think all of us were grateful that Morgan was able to run again and escape the bounds of the hospital bed.

"I woke up the next morning with so many questions in my heart, and concluded with this entry in my journal:

“'I still don’t understand everything, why we felt for so long that Morgan would recover. Why we felt so strongly that he would be made “whole”, “healed” and live. I do know God’s promises are eternal, and that Morgan will be whole in the resurrection, and that he will continue to “live” though temporarily separated from his body (and from us). But I really anticipated a Lazarus like miracle, I just expected the Priesthood to miraculously fix everything that medicine couldn’t, and for Morgan to wake up and say, "Hi Mom! I fell in the pool – sorry. Let’s go home." I truly expected a miracle that would baffle all the doctors and be one comparable to those in the Bible. I really felt like father Abraham, with our son on the altar, and if I just had enough faith an angel would come and save him. I thought of his name and knew he would have the “Victory”, but I was just thinking then of a mortal Victory, and isn’t an eternal victory so much greater? My mom says God answers our prayers the way we want Him to, or better, and perhaps Morgan’s Victory over the tests of life is the better answer? What more could a parent desire than to know their child made it to the Celestial Kingdom? Fully covered and accounted for by the atonement of Christ. What greater Victor is there?

“'But thanks be to God, which giveth us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.' -1 Corinthians 15:57"


Vanessa said...

Oh, tears. How moving, and touching. Thanks for posting this, Julie

Molly said...

Wow, thank you for posting this Julie. I am in awe of this amazing mother and for her tremendous faith and strength.

Heather said...

Thanks for posting this (and other updates). Incredible story of faith and a truly touching testimony.

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