Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Celebration of Life

As I mentioned in my previous post, some of my kids and I spent a week and a half in Oregon, visiting with my parents, so that Rachel could attended EFY.
I will be posting pictures and stories about our trip, but first I want to write about our friend Chris . . .
As my mom, Noelle, Rachel, her friend Dan, and I were returning from the Tillamook coast, I got a text from my husband. I glanced at it, and immediately pulled the car over.
It said "Chris Mitchell was killed in a motorcycle accident today".
It is hard to describe the overwhelming feeling that I had when I read that. If you have ever suddenly lost a dear friend or family member, you know exactly the thoughts that were facing through my mind.
When I had composed myself enough to continue driving, the rain began falling. Torrential. I was so in shock, I felt like those were the tears that I should be shedding, but couldn't.
All I could think of was that I needed to get home.
Chris and Laura Mitchell have been our friends for years, and Chris was my husband's best friend. I know the pain, shock, and sadness that my husband must have been feeling when he got that terrible news. Chris was the first friend that Mark had made in the move back to his home state of Idaho almost 16 years ago. They immediately connected in their first phone conversation, the one in which he had called the Elder's Quorum President for ask for some help to unload our moving truck, and Chris just happened to be that person.
When I talked to Mark shortly after getting the news, it was clear without much discussion that he wanted me to stay in Oregon, because the thought of worrying about me making that 14 hour round trip twice, was worse than missing me for those days. So I stayed.
Yesterday was his memorial service. I had been dreading this day all week, knowing how hard it was going to be to say goodbye. But Chris and his family, including his extended family, are different. Special. Even in the face of this sudden tragedy, they remembered our plan of salvation, that we will see him again in the next life. And so they decided that the focus would be on celebrating his life, and not mourning our loss.
And celebrate we all did! Each individual in the congregation knew that they would shed some tears that day, but most were tears of laughter. The stories, the memories that the speakers shared - his brother, a friend, a former bishop, and my husband-his best friend and current bishop, shared were full of loving memories of the wonderful husband, father, son, uncle, cousin, and friend that he was. He lived life to the fullest, loved his friends and family with all his heart, and was one of the most giving people you could ever know.
And the Mitchell family welcomed a new grandchild born in this week of grief. We gathered later at their home, so that the large extended family and friends that had traveled so far to be there could also celebrate this new life. My husband had the privilege of standing in for his best friend and giving that grandchild Chris' name and a blessing.
I found myself moving from beyond the compassion I felt for the grief of his wife and children, and being torn apart by knowing how much my husband was hurting, to recognizing and realizing how much I am going to miss him. He was my friend, too, and I will miss his laugh, his stories, and his friendship.
We love you, James Christian Nielsen Mitchell!
. . . till we meet again!


Missy said...

Very Very Very nice post Loralee...Brings me to tears! That indeed was a wonderful Celebration of life, and I really believe it was so wonderful because of the person Chris was...It was so fun to hear all the funny stories and to share in all the laughter:) I'm so sorry for your and Mark's loss in a best friend...but grateful he was a part of your lives

Debbie said...

I am sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Knowing that we will see our loved ones again eases the pain a bit. Knowing that he is with our Heavenl Father brings peace and comfort. What a great way to honor this fine man. My prayers are with you and his family.

LyndiLou said...

Oh Loralee... I'm glad you've been able to think things out sooo well. Losing someone is hard, but you have a beautiful perspective of things. We are blessed with an amazing peace... knowing that he's ok and that you'll see him again. Thank you for that reminder... to help each of us be stronger when we have to say goodbye.

Grace said...

Loralee, that is so hard. We had a young man in our stake that was killed just 2 weeks ago. He and his friend were driving down Laurel Rd...too fast that is for sure but even still, it was a sad and terrible shock to their families. The one boy I taught in primary and I knew his parents and older siblings pretty well. I am so sorry for your sad heart right now. Take care

Michelle said...

That is soo sad! Made me cry and I don't even know him! That's really hard to lose someone close and especially so suddenly.

Melissa said...

What a beautiful post, and now I am crying at work.

Reminder of why I dig you so much, you share the best stuff!

Hang in there friend