My Dear Link-
Oh my beloved son. I am thankful you can know exactly what is in my heart without using words, because there are many, many times that this mortal language limits my expression. For example, the words “I miss you” are completely inadequate. No number of accompanying adjectives could express the ache I have for you.
Only a few months after you left this earth, I was at church and the lesson was on missionary work. Mother after mother stood up and read letters from their missionaries. My heart was grieved afresh as I knew that I would not have the opportunity to read similar letters from you. I always dreamt of having a son serve a mission and be able to share that same pride and delight as those mothers – reading your letters and learning of your growth and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And my heart was crushed as the reality set in that I would not send my son on a mission. And then, clearly and surely, words came to my mind. They were “YOU ALREADY HAVE A SON ON A MISSION” and acknowledging the reality of that statement almost took my breath away. Tears came to my eyes as my heart witnessed the truth of what my mind had just understood. It didn’t take away all the hurt, but it certainly helped me as I realized that I, too, could stand up with those mothers and talk about my son on a mission.
Link, I know you have been busy these past two years. You have helped to bring your Grandmother to the temple and get her sealed to her parents and spouse. You have been the source of much work in our family to do genealogy work and help “Link” families together. You have given your sisters a strong testimony of the plan of salvation, family history, and missionary work. They love to share your story and remember you. You helped bring your sister to mortality and we know that you two share a special, eternal bond. You also have worked on your Grandma Tew’s side of the family and we were surprised and overjoyed to learn of your 2nd cousin getting to serve in Thailand. We know you are assisting him as well. Your dad and I talk about what you look like as a missionary. We wonder who your companions are – Grandpa Tew? Uncle Bart? What are your “zones”? Does Jesus head up your mission conferences? Most importantly, we wonder how we can help you. We wonder if we’re doing enough with making sure our own family is “Linked” together tightly, and if we are making enough progress with finding names. We seek your help, Link, with lines of our family where we seem to be “stuck” – especially your dad’s dad’s line and my dad’s line. We ask for and expect help and miracles as we seek for these names and try to learn more about our ancestors.
Now, I can’t say that I have always been a supportive “missionary mom.” I try, but I have to admit that there are moments when I truly wish I was a regular missionary mom. After two years, they get to welcome their sons home with hugs and kisses. I admit that my temporal mind reaches up to the heavens and wonders “Isn’t two years enough?” “Hasn’t he done enough good for you?” “Can’t I please have him back now?” No… your mission papers do not have a return date on them and many days, it’s hard for my heart to accept. But there are moments of clarity and perspective, moments when I turn my eyes toward the heavens and my heart is filled with pride at all you are doing and knowledge that it has to be this way – that you cannot do what you need to do from this side of the veil. And in those moments when I am looking up, instead of awash in my dark sea of grief, you always seem to find a way to let me know that you are proud of me, too. And that you love me. It could be a brilliant rainbow that stretches across the sky. It could be your song coming on the radio. It could be a ray of light. It could be the way your sister smiles at me and I feel you near. It could be a sweet dream of your face. It could be the powerful spirit when I am in the temple. It could be a butterfly that seems to linger, or just a sweet soft caress of breeze. But, if I am paying attention, you let me know. And those are my “letters” from my valiant missionary. They give me hope, peace, love and perspective. Please keep them coming, my son.
I know you have already "returned with honor" and it is now my goal to return to YOU with honor.
“I love you” is another phrase that cannot relay the depth of my feeling. But you know. Thank goodness you know.
I’m proud of you Link. I love you. I miss you.