When I Run out of Birthdays

As I have spent time with Miss Maya over the past nearly 4 years of her life, we have grown close and have a great love for each other. She has asked many times about dying and told me that she didn't want me to die because she would miss me. (and I would miss her - more than she knows!) I have talked with her about the fact that our family can be together forever but I don't think I've handled it as well as was done in this talk I just read by Ardeth Kapp. (It's long-ish but well worth the time to read through it.)

"I had gone to Tucson Arizona to spend a few wonderful and memorable days with my niece Shelly as she gave birth to her fourth little boy. Prior to delivery, three young boys waited anxiously for the arrival of their little brother who was making the transition from his heavenly home to begin his experience on earth. Now, he had joined them and each little brother took turns reverently cradling this tiny baby in their arms for a time. It seemed to me like they already knew him in an interesting way.
Soon after this moment of reverence and celebration, I was sitting at the kitchen table with these young children painting rocks, making birds and fish and bugs and other creative possibilities. Six-year-old Josh, holding his paint brush and looking very serious, asked the question: "How many birthdays do you have left, Nana Ardie?"

I smiled and asked, "What do you mean Josh?"

He reached out his arms to give me a hug and said, "I love you and I don’t want you to ever die."

At that moment, the reality of mortality and immortality swept through my mind like a glorious drama in which we all take part. We enter this life as a baby and, in what seems like so few birthdays, there comes a time for us to return. We each have our time on stage.

With my arm around this little blonde headed boy and realizing that Easter was upon us, I said, "Josh, I have something wonderful to tell you. I don’t know how many birthdays I have left but that part doesn’t really matter. What really matters is to know that Jesus came to this earth like your little baby brother . He did what he came to do. Then he died and was resurrected because of his great love for everyone. He made it possible that there would never be an end to our love for each other. Just like when I say good-bye to you and go back to Utah, we still keep loving each other and look forward to seeing each other again. When I run out of birthdays, I will go back home but we will still keep loving each other and look forward to when we will be together again."

What beautiful words. We will keep loving each other and we will be together again -- if we do the things we should while we are here. Just as the tulip fields pictured above seem endless, so is our family. It can be endless and eternal. What motivation that is for me to be obedient, to follow the prophet, and to uphold the standards and principles of the gospel.

I want to be with every one of my family members again -- even when I run out of birthdays.


Kristi said...

That talk just gave me the chills, Jan...very well expressed. I love these thoughts--Maya is so lucky to have you in her life (and so is Natalie...and all of your family for that matter! :)

Jori said...

I really do get goosebumps with all of your posts. Thank you, that was just fabulous and very comforting to me today. You're the best Jan!

Tiburon said...

Excellent! Seriously Jan, you are amazing :)

Miss Jones said...

jan, that article made me cry. probably cause i just left heather's kids & that was hard for me to leave them, cause i don't know when i'll see them again. but thanks for sharing that!

hoLLy said...

that was perfect timing for me to read today. thanks for an inspiring post jan. i love your blog-i can't say that enough!

100 Percent Cottam said...

well, we don't need to talk about you running out of birthdays. you ARE planning on living forever, aren't you? that's my plan for you!

Darleen said...

Thanks for that post. That topic is very sensitive to me but I just have to think that it's all apart of God's plan.