I was watching dancing with the stars and the theme for tonight was ‘the most memorable year of your life’. It made me think about my life. What is the most memorable year in my life? It’s very tough to answer, but 2 years came to mind first: 2001 and 2007.
Now this isn’t the best years that would be different because both 2001 and 2007 were rough. I’ve talked a lot about 2007 on this blog so let me tell you a little bit about 2001. It was quite the ride.
When 2001 started I was flying high.
I had just finished a dream trip with my Grandma and my dear cousin Lisa to New York City. We had enjoyed the Rockettes, museums and lots of Broadway shows. We were scolded by my Grandma for ordering too much pizza and we told her we’d eat it later but it smelled so we put it outside and the maids took it. Knowing she would ask about it we spent the night coming up with outlandish stories about what happened to the pizza and laughing. I saw my first New York at Christmas and saw the Rockefeller tree and the lights. It was magic.
I would never have been prepared for what would happen.
Here I am in 2001 with my roommate:
I made sure I signed up for 30 course hours a year while going to school, usually more and I had taken a lighter load in the fall so winter term I was taking 18 credits! They were also junior level rigorous courses. It was challenging but I pushed on through until the end of March.
Then I got the call and found out my beloved Grandpa had passed away. It still makes me cry to write it. In many ways it was a good thing but I still miss him so much. He’s my hero and I would visit him every Sunday and he would tell me how beautiful I looked. It meant a lot to me. And then he was gone and there isn’t a day 13 years later that I don’t wish I could talk to him and wonder what he’s thinking about my life. I hope he’s happy with me.
Then just 2 weeks later, my Dad gave me a call and he was crying. “Rachel” he said haltingly into the phone “Lisa passed away”. I was stunned. The bright spirit I’d been joking with over pizza months before and wizzing around New York was gone.
I can’t remember when it occurred during the week but I had a few days before the flight to California for the funeral. I was devastated and felt guilty spending any time on my 18 credits of classes but finals were coming up and I knew Lisa and Grandpa would want me to study. But my head was hanging low, just getting through the day.
At this same time there was a girl named Emily who was in my ward that I had met, and had met my sister in Nauvoo study abroad. She was an acquaintance but I knew she had been missing from church for a month or so.
As I walked up to campus the weight of my problems heavy on my shoulders Emily saw me and she stopped and said ‘are you ok?’. I’ll never forget that.
It will doubt be no surprise if you are a frequent blog reader to hear I immediately burst into tears and told her my sad story (I’m a bit of an open book…). I would learn she was grieving from her own deep loss of her father which is why she had been gone for so many weeks. (what a great example of looking to help others when you are the one hurting the most).
We talked and she helped me pack for the funeral. I quickly learned she was not living with kind people and so out of the blue I said
“I know. Why don’t you come live with Megan and me?”
I called Megan and she was like “Ok. Why not” probably a little caught off guard but she then added “Why don’t we ask Julia?” Julia is our cousin and Lisa’s sister who had come home from her mission to the funeral. Julia agreed and after the funeral I found an apartment for the 4 of us and it was all settled.
When I got home from the funeral I prayed Heavenly Father would help me with finals. That I would find a way to not suffer from the weeks of absences both emotional and physical. I tried my best and you know what I got my best grades of all of college. All As and Bs despite all that happened and taking the most credits. Miracles do happen.
In June 2001 I retook Poli Sci 201 because I had gotten a lazy C as a sophmore because the teacher bored me but for some reason I knew I needed to be a TA for that class. I was lucky to have Dr. Matthew Holland as my teacher in his first class of students as a BYU Professor.
At the end of the course I called him for about 2 weeks leaving messages, begging to be his TA. Finally he answered and said “so I hear you want to be one of my TA’s”. My best buddy Raelene was also a TA and we had such a wonderful experience . He had such faith in me and never changed a grade I gave. That did so much for my confidence.
This is Raelene and I in 2009 but we basically look the same…
And then the whole world had tragedy with 9-11. I’ll never forget driving up to campus and seeing everyone on their phones (which at the time seemed strange). The whole aura was nervous, sad and unsure.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Brothers and sisters, that is our message this morning. Fortunately this is only the second act of a three-act play. Even when death comes to those we love, we know what lies ahead. We know they are fine. It is those of us who are left behind who are sad. We know we will see them again, and we know we will be with them. When death comes to someone who has the peace of the Holy Ghost inside, it can be sweet, not bitter.
Do you understand why you young people hold the power of peace for the world in your hands? The world depends on you.
Many of you have just returned from missions; many of you will go next year. The world’s peace is on your shoulders because you have the only message that gives hope for eternal peace”
Here’s the whole talk if you want to listen to it:
I took his admonition seriously. I was finishing up school and after the year I had it was all to clear ‘this is the second act in a three-act play’. I knew I would be responsible for making the world better. For bringing peace in my own little circle, and I’ve striven to do that. Even with anxiety, depression, frustration and disappointment I have tried my best to never forget the Lord and His goodness, to share His peace.
Because it is on our shoulders in 2001 and 2014. I’m certainly glad not all my years are 2001’s (my family couldn’t take it!) but it made me the person I am today. It was a refining time and a time for decisions on the type of person I was going to be.
And it certainly was memorable…