by Rene Allen
It is 5:30 AM. Outside the sky is early-morning gray – a sign to me that the days are shortening, the nights growing longer. A month ago at this time, the sun was up, and the Mexican Birds of Paradise outside my window brightly illuminated. Now they seem dull colored, but even the gray morning can’t disguise the inherent throbbing orange and yellow of their blooms.
I am up, but wish I were still asleep. I wish the phone call from my father at 11 o’clock last night had been a dream. I wish I had awakened to a clean palette of thoughts, of fresh ideas about a new day. Instead, I have a tragedy to deal with and it is so meshed to the ideas of my blog two weeks ago as to be stunning.
My last blog was about this life being the time to prepare to meet God. Last night, my father called to tell me that my brother and his 23 year old son were killed along with 8 other people in a plane crash a couple of miles from the Canyonland, Utah, airport. Lansing was a dermatologist. Each month, he and his office staff traveled to underserved locales to provide skin cancer screening and other medical services. He has been doing it for five years or more. His son, Dallin, whose wife will soon have their first child, accompanied him. Dallin was in the process of applying to medical school. He idolized his father, and Lansing was immensely proud of him. I recently helped Dallin with his personal statement for medical school. Now, I struggle to accept the process has ended, that this young man who was serious about life and about making contributions, is gone and that my dear brother is, too.
But I return to the Book of Mormon for comfort. After Alma talked to his son Corianton about the resurrection and mercy and justice, he told him that he was called to preach the word, that he may “bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them.” And then Alma took his sons and they went to do the Lord’s work.
In my mind, I see Lansing and Dallin, father and son as companions, teaching the word: the great doctrines of the resurrection, of a plan of Atonement, of the Savior and his love for each of us. I see them in radiant white and they are glorious and powerful.
We here who remain suffer their loss and we grieve. I think of what the future might have held and there are now huge gaps, vacancies, distortions in what should have been and this makes me incredibly sad. But then I see them, their white clothing and gleaming faces, and feel comfort, and assurance, and hope.
Here is the promise of eternal life, of our unique faith and religion, that families are forever.