I hope this post won't be too serious as compared to what has previously been written here, but I wanted to share a few thoughts that I have had recently.
About three years ago I was present as my uncle Brent had a serious heart attack. My dad and I had gone to Brent's farm in Garland, UT to pick up some hay for my dad's horse. When we arrived, Brent and his son Kevin were just getting home from having played racquetball. After loading up the hay, my dad and I went in to the farmhouse to use the bathroom and to talk with Brent and Kevin for a minute. Just as my dad and I were leaving, Brent stopped responding to the conversation, and we saw him slump over on the couch. As there has always been a serious history of heart disease in my family, we all assumed that Brent was having a heart attack and immediately called 911. Brent was taken in an ambulance to the Tremonton hospital, and then to McKay Dee hospital in Ogden. He was taken to the Cath Lab and within hours the doctor came and informed us that there had been previous damage to Brent's heart which, coupled with the episode of that day, made it impossible to stabilize him. Brent died soon after.
The reason that I wanted to write about that was that recently the bishop in my singles ward also had a very serious heart attack. He had been running on a Saturday morning and had returned home and started experiencing chest pains. His wife took him to the hospital where he was also rushed into the Cath Lab. As he was being wheeled in, he told his wife that he didn't think that he'd be coming back. Fortunately they were able to stabilize him to the point that they could then go in and examine the heart damage. He was told that most likely the damage would be significant, and that open-heart surgery would be needed. However, after a blessing, the procedure was done, and no serious damage was found. Bishop Hanks was put on medication, and was in church the next week.
In hearing the Bishop recount what had happened to him, I couldn't help but see the similarities to what had happened to my uncle Brent. It seems to me that their situations were almost identical, with the exception being the outcome. Brent had been exercising, had a serious heart attack and died within hours. Bishop Hanks had been exercising, had a serious heart attack, and was home the next day. It almost seems unfair.
As I listened to Bishop Hanks tell of what happened to him, and as I compared the outcome to that of my uncle Brent, I was surprised to find that I was filled with gratitude. When I attended my uncle's viewing and subsequent funeral, I was surprised to find thousands of people had come to pay their respects. Brent was a full time elementary school principal and a full time farmer, neither of which are professions that garner a lot of praise generally in the world. Regardless, thousands came to show respect for a man who had touched countless lives. Similarly, if Bishop Hanks had not been so lucky I'd have joined many, I'm sure, to show love for a man whom I similarly respect and admire for his goodness and willingness to serve others. I have no idea what he does for a living.
The gratitude that I felt recently was three-fold. I am grateful to know that you live after you die. I can't imagine losing a family member without knowing that I would see them again.
I am also grateful to know that it doesn't matter how long you live, or how you die, but what you do with the time you have.
Lastly, I am grateful to be a member of a church that builds good men. There is so much selfishness in the world, but I am a member of a church where people are generally not selfish. In a world in which there is a lack of suitable role models, I have been blessed with a wealth. All my life I have been able to look at my family and members of my church and see much, much more good than bad. I'm certain that not everybody can say that. For that I will always be most grateful.