Tonight I attended a candlelight vigil for a five year old girl from our ward that drowned last Saturday night in the families backyard pool. I had never been to a candlelight vigil before and did not quite know what to expect. It was a very neat experience to see the people from our community come together to support this family. There was quite a large crowd of many different people who did not know each other but came together for a mutual cause.
As members of our ward spoke about little Rachel and what she had already come to mean to people in our community we held our candles. There was a slight breeze and I found myself protecting my little flame with my palm trying very hard not to let it blow out. It was then that I started thinking about how much this flame is like our children. They are so vulnerable to the things around them. They are given to us for a short time and it is our job to protect them. At times the flame would blow close to my hand and I could feel the heat and a small amount of discomfort. It is so much like parenthood. There are times when you see your child struggle or make wrong decisions and that is when you feel the heat and pain of a broken heart but you stand still and steady so that they won't burn out. The thing that struck me the most was that no matter what angle I held my hand at, my little candle flickered and threatened to burn out. I realized then that no matter what we do, no matter how careful and attentive we are, sometimes horrible things happen to our little ones. It is no one's fault. It is simply the Lord calling them home. All we can do is take comfort in the fact that we did whatever we could to protect them and that we loved them. We must simply have faith that our love and our protection were enough to teach our children the lessons they must know before returning to our Heavenly Father.
It's amazing what one little candle can teach a mother who is looking for reassurance that her own children will be okay. A mother who hugs her own 5 year old daughter every time she gets the chance and thanks the Lord that she is still alive. A mother that feels she wouldn't have the strength to walk her dying child to an operating room to give up the last parts of her little one to save the lives of others. A mother looking for peace in her own life when other's lives are in turmoil. A mother doing everything she can to "do it right" and feeling like she has no idea what to do.
I am so thankful for the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the image I have of this perfect little child that was taken from her parents too soon, sitting in the Saviors lap and smiling because she is home. I am thankful for the knowledge that I have that Jesus Christ lives and has paid the price for our sins and has felt our pain. I am so thankful for the comfort that this belief brings and the knowledge that I have that no matter what happens to my own children, I can be with them for all eternity. We will never have to part forever, maybe for a short term in this life but in the end we will have our happily ever after.