Take a moment and picture the eternities. What do you see for yourself?
I take great comfort from this belief of my Church; that families can be together forever.
A basic eternal truth of this Church is that families may, if they are worthy, have an eternal relationship; for us it would not be heaven without our parents, our grandparents, our eternal companions, our children, and our posterity. This union of families comes through the sealing power exercised within the hallowed walls of the temples under authorized priesthood authority.(James E. Faust, “Eternity Lies before Us,” Ensign, May 1997, 18)
My mother-in-law is currently suffering from a deadly disease and does not have long on this earth. Many discussions revolve around her death and what lays beyond. I cannot help but dwell upon similar conversations with my own mom twenty years ago.
My mom believed in God, and believed there was a heaven; but she did not know what to expect and the unknown was frightening to her. My mother-in-law, however, has a firm belief that heaven is the place where her loved ones, who have already passed on, are anxiously waiting to receive her. She envisions a place of familiar faces, happiness beyond anything she’s experienced in this earthly vale and joy in being home again with her Eternal Father.
Oh what joy such knowledge brings!
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. Mosiah 2:41
It’s impossible for me not to compare these two distinct experiences, that are at the same time completely different from one another and painfully similar. On the one hand, there was my mom, alone and unsure of what lay ahead for her. There was also us, her children, who weren’t sure what to make of the eternities either, or if they even existed. She sorrowed not only to leave us, but also and especially, she sorrowed to go into the great unknown.
However my mother-in-law is surrounded by loved ones, receives blessings of comfort at the hands of worthy priesthood holders regularly, and has a sure knowledge in what lays in store for her; a reunion with her own parents, siblings who have passed, and family that extends to the beginning of time. She has lived a good life, she has kept the commandments of God; she has every right to have hope in her eternal salvation. While she is sad to leave her family, she also feels great excitement and joy at the prospect of what comes next for her.
As a child, I am overwhelmed by my intense feelings. Since I joined the Church in 1990, I know where my mom is now and so I have no more sadness or fear for her. I believe she repented sufficiently and, with a humble and contrite heart, she was received into her Father’s presence. As for my mother-in-law, I know where she is going and I am so happy for her. I am happy for us, her children and her grandchildren because as long as we live worthily we can look forward to being with her again some day too.
Goodbye is not forever. It is only a mere passing of time that will be all for naught when all is said and done. There is a favorite LDS Hymn that I love:
I have a fam’ly here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them,through all eternity.
Fam’lies can be together forever,
Through Heavn’ly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family,
And the Lord has shown me how I can.
The Lord has shown me how I can.
LDS Hymns, #300
Happiness is knowing that our families are eternal, that we can be together forever, some day.