One morning when I was five years old I woke up to find my Mom’s friend Colleen in the place where my mom should have been. Understandably, I was confused. And frightened. It was school picture day and as a kindergartener, I was terribly nervous. It turned out that my beautiful, pregnant mother’s water had broken during the night and being only a few months along she had rushed to the hospital.
As the months progressed, she remained in critical condition and my sisters and I moved to southern Utah to stay with my grandparents. First came Halloween; I was Mary Poppins. Then Thanksgiving. A few days later we got the call – I was the ecstatic big sister to a teeny, tiny one-pound baby brother.
Now, 18 years later, he defied the odds. He is a genius, terribly witty, ridiculously handsome and has had absolutely no complications since leaving that NICU in Walnut Creek, California. Our family was unbelievably blessed. Needless to say, I adore him.
Almost a year ago our Church announced that the missionary age was changing. Instead of waiting until they were 19, young men were welcome to serve at the ripe old age of 18. While that was a magnificent day and the masses were overjoyed, my stomach sunk a little. Because I know my brother and I knew he was already itching to leave. The smile on his face when he found out was priceless. Magical, really.
Now here I sit, a week to the day from when he entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) as a man set apart to take the divine knowledge of the gospel to the city of Cebu. The people of the Philippines have no clue just how lucky they are.
While I could go on and on about him, it is enough for me to say that he is one of the greatest examples of love, determination, kindness and positivity in my life. He inspires me every day to do a little more, try a little harder and give just a little more. My poor heart literally exploded when we dropped him off at the curb and he walked away into a sea of white shirts, dark slacks and black name tags. Two years is a loooonnnnngggg time. But I can’t imagine him in any better place.
(Afterwards my family drowned our sorrows with Cafe Rio pork salads. It seemed like the only appropriate thing to do. But seeing as we sobbed all the way through the line, we definitely made an impression on the cashier. Leave it to us.)