As has now been pointed out to me, I am a bad blogger. I apologize to those who are following the blog, as there hasn’t been much activity for a while. Some may even have wondered if we are still alive. Rest assured, we are. There have been a lot of things that have occupied our time and blogging just wasn’t one of them. As interesting things occur, we shall share them (and promptly!).
One thing that I will share is a trip away from our mission. It is unusual for missionaries to be allowed to leave the mission boundaries during their period of service. We just returned from New Jersey, and it wasn’t for a happy occasion. Our grandson, Kyle White, died suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of October. He collapsed and was unresponsive when medics arrived. He was taken to the hospital and placed on life support. Various tests were performed over the next few days and (in accordance with a fairly extensive protocol in New Jersey) he was declared brain dead. Since he was an organ donor, his body was kept on life support until they were ready to remove the organs. He was 21 years old.
Why does a seemingly healthy and active 21 year old collapse and die? We don’t know the cause of Kyle’s death. One of the things that medical professionals check immediately in young people is for drugs. They ran a tox screen twice, and both times it came out negative for any drugs in his system. Kyle was an organ donor, and we do know that his heart was damaged and not suitable for transplantation.
We finished the Sunday services that we conduct at Fort Eustis and then drove the seven hours that it takes to get to North New Jersey. We stayed with our eldest son, Jeff, and with Jon, our youngest, who was staying with Jeff. It was wonderful to get to visit with both of them, though we wish the circumstances could have been different.
The funeral was held in Branchville, NJ on Monday, 2 November. There was a viewing from 4:00 to 7:00 and then a service following at the funeral home. This was really a tribute to Kyle and his parents, Jennifer and Shane White. For three hours, people filed through the funeral home to pay their respects. There was never a break of more than a few minutes, and it was quite crowded. It was graphic evidence of how much impact they have had on their community and how much the community thinks of them. One of Shane’s cousins, who is a minister in Lynchburg, VA, provided the eulogy.
Death is not inexpensive, which is why many people have insurance. It is my understanding that Kyle’s arrangements cost around $9,000 for a fairly simple service. That’s a pretty big hit that most of us couldn’t take out of petty cash. A web site had been set up by friends to collect funds to help offset the cost. The members of the small, rural community where Jen and Shane live had donated that before the service was over – another tribute to how well they are regarded.
We used this opportunity to get the family together for the first time since Jon’s wedding. Julianne flew in from Phoenix and stayed with Jennifer and Shane. Elizabeth came from Houston and stayed with Matt and his family. Jon, as mentioned before, stayed with Jeff. We took the opportunity on Tuesday to go out to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, followed by a trip to Cold Stone Creamery. It allowed us to take our minds off of the sad reason for which we had gathered, and it was really a wonderful time together. We all realized that we needed to do this more often.
This served as a reminder to all of us that our time here on earth can be short and is fleeting. If there are tasks we need to perform, we cannot delay, for none of us knows how many heartbeats we have been allotted. There is a “good news-bad news” saying that goes, “The bad news is that time flies. The good news is that you’re the pilot.” Each day we make choices on whether we will use our time for good or ill.
While losing Kyle makes us sad, our knowledge of God’s eternal plan for His children brings us joy and comfort. Kyle’s spirit still lives and, through the grace of the atonement of Jesus Christ, will be reunited with his physical body in the resurrection. The sealing ordinance offered in temples throughout the world allows families have the opportunity to be sealed together for eternity through the power of the priesthood. Further, God has given us the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to bear us up in times of despair and reiterate the assurance that all truly is well. Mary Lou and I bear witness that these things are true and can bless you as they have blessed us in our lives, and we do it in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.