Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Grief is so strange. One minute you're happy, and you're living and progressing, laughing again and loving, and the next you see a little reminder that brings on a flashback of memories. Memories that bring up this lump in your throat, tears in your eyes, and you are overcome with emotion.
Some might try to push those things away, but grief, I am seeing, can be my greatest teacher. Grief, and sadness, they remind me, when I have forgotten of the beautiful fragility underneath all things.
Today driving on my way home from SLC a dove flew in front of my car. Surprise!
But the surprise was a flashback of Jen Thorpe telling me about her cancer diagnoses and being terrified when they told her she had two months to live....
On Jens drive home one day, from devastating news, a dove flew in front of her car, in the same place I was today…
She said she went from being overcome with fear to feeling peace. The dove, brought peace and she had the distinct thought that everything was going to be okay.
That memory, lead me to remembering my life before I knew Jen. And what lead me to have the tools to share with her to at least help ease some of the pain she endured.
I remember getting sick as a teenager, and walking and crying with my mom, and she looked at me and said, "one day you will be grateful for what you're enduring, don't mistake local cloud cover for general darkness, there is sunlight behind these clouds." I remember the yoga video I was lead to, and getting healthy and getting sick again in college and having to move home. I remember wondering if I would live. I remember the work and labor and the miracles that allowed me to become well. I remember the night I prayed to God and told Him whether I lived or died, I wanted to devote my life to Him. I remember being lead to the place where I could get healthy.
I remember the Christian boy that was more passionate about Jesus than any friends I had at the time, and I remember wondering why I didn't praise the Lord in all that I did. I remember reading and studying and trying to persuade each other into each others religions. I remember that even though that friendship was challenging that it taught me about God in a way I couldn't have otherwise learned. I remember being grateful for the strange work God was doing in me.
I remember the young man trying to convince me to move to California, when I knew I was supposed to go on a mission. I remember praying about that and the dream of being in darkness and alone in California. I remember the flash in the dream of seeing me ride a bike next to a field and it was bright and I was scared, but I knew it would be the right choice. I remember not even knowing at the time where I was going. I remember not even really knowing women served missions at that time, and I remember being really insecure and scared. I remember the dejavue' at the missionary training center, and the instant best friend I made there. I remember teaching my first yoga class at 22 years old in the mtc and teaching it throughout my mission to other missionaries. I remember riding my bike by the field I saw in my dream.
I remember not wanting to talk to anyone when I got home. I remember moving to North Ogden, not knowing why. I remember being 24, suffering the loss of hopes and dreams... I remember wondering what I was doing in North Ogden.. I was alone, and yet I had this strange feeling that I was home. I remember locking my keys in my car and the locksmith that saved me. I remember getting hired by that locksmiths friend to teach yoga before I was certified because of him. I remember being given the opportunity to own the gym I taught at shortly after teaching yoga there and managing it. I remember thinking, how the heck do I own a business at 25, I came from the hood? I remember asking bank after bank to get the loan I would need, and the looks I was given, since I was a college student and still fresh off my mission. I remember not knowing why I kept looking and trying, I had nothing. Why would anyone give me a loan? I remember the thought, "with God all things are possible" and literally, somehow I was provided a way. I remember not being confident at all, but my boss was amazing and believed so much in me that I couldn't not believe in myself. I remember declaring my gym would be a place of love and healing. I also remember physically chasing people out of my gym when they would swear, and putting tape over their mouths, for some reason it was endearing to them so they kept coming back. Haha!
I remember praying for the building to have a shield around it, so angels could come to help people heal their souls as they worked out their bodies and hearing miracle stories daily in my office. I remember starting with ONE student, and then next thing I knew people were driving clear from Morgan just to come to class. I remember feeling heaven in that class, and watching people do and try things they never thought possible. I remember being grateful for my life battle with health because I honestly understood these people. I remember hearing stories of triumph and overcoming hard things, daily in my office. I remember sucking at owning a business but being a boss at making friends. haha.
I remember the guy yelling and spit flying in my face, and I remember asking if everything was okay at home and the tears that came to his eyes. I remember knowing people weren't intentionally mean they were mean because of personal pain. I remember being overwhelmed and just wishing I had a partner. I remember how much the members helped me when it was so crucial to expand. I remember the people that volunteered time and literally saved me thousands of dollars just because they loved the snap fitness fam.
I remember the countless hours of people helping me paint, put up mirrors, and the heart and soul all my trainers put into making their clients have huge success.
And then I remembered going through heartbreak and wondering if love was real and if I was capable of being healthy in a relationship because I didn’t know what healthy was. I remember praying and asking God to teach me.
I remember praying so hard for someone to just know I needed help because I didn't know how to ask for help. I remember my friend I met at church, and being put in the same calling, and that he wouldn't leave my side. I remember him changing lights, working out with me, reading scriptures, and helping me clean all the time.
I remember not knowing who Greg or Jen Thorpe even were. I remember my roommate saying their name, and something piercing my heart and soul so deep, just from hearing their names, that I started to cry, having no idea why. I remember hearing their story, and how they were changing the community by lighting it with love as she endured cancer treatments.
I remember going to church and somehow that day they were guest speaking in my ward. I remember Jen never spoke at church because she didn’t like it. I remember hearing clear as day “help her” while sitting on the back pew, and weeping because I had no idea how I could possibly help her.
I remember writing them a random message, and being embarrassed that they didn't know me...I remember simply asking if she wanted to do yoga to help with the pain and stress that accompanies chemo… I remember being scared feeling inadequate to help the most influential people in our community.
I remember they accepted. I remember the first day I was invited to their home, feeling the love of God so strong I almost left because I was uncomfortable. I remember seeing not a temple marriage, but a celestial marriage. I remember being made aware of changes I needed to make in my life in order to be worthy of the love I saw in that home. I remember seeing a husband love his wife in a way I’d never seen anybody love anyone before. I remember watching him care for her to make her life comfortable as she endured this heavy cross. And I remember that spirit and that love sinking so in my heart so deep I knew I was never again going to be the same. I remember getting brave, and making a decision to do what it takes to have that kind of pure and genuine, celestial type love. I remember not being okay with the worldly approach to relationships. I remember being willing to sacrifice anything it would take to be counted worthy to have God's love with me, the way I felt it in that home.
I remember them inviting me in their home again, and again, and I remember talking and laughing with Jen often. I remember at first being afraid to be there because I felt not holy enough. I remember slowly feeling like a member of the family. I remember thanking God every night for the chance to be around such noble souls, and for the answered prayer to be able to learn how to better myself so I could love like that. I felt like the most lucky human on the earth. I remember convincing Jens dad to lay on the ground and do yoga and laughing our guts out cause NOBODY told Dave what to do! haha! I remember knowing I wasn’t helping her, she was helping me.
I remember people fasting and praying for Jen everyday for the three years as she defied odds. I remember broken marriages heal because of their example of love and devotions. I remember watching people gain faith in God and in family and in the eternities as our community united together to support our dearest friends. I remember watching Greg study charts and charts of cancer screenings. I remember the anxiety of bad news and how he'd stand up at institute and teach on Tuesday nights with power even though he was suffering. I remember over 500 students coming to learn about Jesus Christ, and the building being so full there was no room. I remember the flack he would get from people, who didn't understand him. I remember studying my brains out to know how I could better help her body get to a place where it could heal. I remember crying, and begging and pleading with God to help me help her. I remember thanking God for guiding me to this place where I wasn't helping Jen, but I was learning an eternal kind of love.
I remember people who learned what it mean for a husband to love God and his wife. I remember students learning it was cool to be righteous, and that you're just like everybody else when you blend with the world.
I remember thousands uniting together to help not only this family, but all families suffering from cancer by building a cancer foundation called, "just a break".
I remember driving down the road in three years into her diagnoses in December and hearing “go see Jen”.
I remember driving to Huntsman, and that was the last day I would have a real conversation with her before she was no longer able to speak. I remember weeping with gratitude in prayer that God let me speak with my friend on earth, just one more time.
I remember having a hard time watching her go downhill after seeing so many miracles and wanting to just get away from the grief. I remember walking in her room on the day she was passing. I remember feeling hosts of angels in the room, and it felt like we were talking spirit to spirit with her, because she could no longer talk. I remember promising her I'd look out for her family while they coped with the grief, and telling her I would help Greg move forward and find a new companion because that's what she wanted. I remember feeling the spirit so strong as we spoke, and I remember telling her it would be okay if she needed to go.
I remember she passed that night, and Greg telling everyone not to weep for him. He didn’t lose Jen. He declared that in his short 24 short years with her he knew more love than many can know in a lifetime, and that was for his gain. I remember her funeral on Christmas eve, and having "greg toast" for Christmas at their house the next day.
I remember conversations with Jen about love and feeling how much she loved Greg and that she didn't want to leave ever. I remember that I was just so hungry to learn from her. I remember relief, because neither of us understood what it means to get jealous. She encouraged Greg to date other girls when they dated, because if there was someone better for him she wanted him to have her. I remember thanking God that I found a friend that thought the same. If you really love somebody, you just want what’s best for them even if that is not you.
I remember Greg and I as friends trying to heal from the loss. I remember laughing and weeping together. I remember being compelled to sub seminary and being able to be under his influence and watch him keep teaching and blessing and testifying of Jesus Christ after such heavy loss. I remember talking and laughing hysterically on the phone. I remember when my gym was flooding on Christmas and I was to embarrassed to ask for help, but he came and helped me chip away the ice causing the flood. I remember the amazing girl that came into his life and helped bring him to life, and that even though she wasn't to be his future wife, her influence will be rejoiced over in the eternities. I remember Jen's request for Gregs future wife. I remember the lists of things Greg and I wrote trying to figure out how to be healthy, and love after loss. I remember the day He found her years later, and I remember instantly loving her and feeling joy he found his person. I remember knowing she was the one because he didn't need my advice anymore. I remember seeing she was everything Jen hoped for, and everything Greg needed. I remember feeling joy, over another soul finding someone to love.
I remember the young man I met who lost his mom at 3, and was abused for years by his first step mom. I remember his troubled heart and how alive we both felt when we were together. I remember our peculiar bond and hanging out everyday for four and a half years. I remember reading scriptures, and working out together, and how he was my pal on every trip. I remember he would help me do all the hard things all the time at my gym. I remember we would always say we were prepping each other for our future spouses because there was no way we could be together. I remember working so hard together at our callings, and I remember hardly anyone coming to church activities but putting our whole souls into them and the next thing we knew over 100 people were coming. I remember the day I was lost at sea and almost died and he ran away from his friends and prayed and he knew I'd be okay. I remember after almost losing my life being compelled to step it up, and suddenly I was speaking to thousands of youth about letting God's love and light in your because one light in a sea of darkness can save a life. I remember my life being saved because on person left on a light while stranded in a literal sea of darkness.
I remember when I was asked to let go of my best friend and the grief that overcame me. I remember the daunting task it was to even comprehend that we could be together, and then the overwhelming grief, knowing I was being asked to let him go. I remember not ever wanting to hang out with anyone else, and wondering how was I ever supposed to find love that pure and holy?
I remember feeling this powerful spirit was carrying me when I wanted to not go on.
I remember that day driving to school and the dove that flew in front of my car. I remember feeling peace, and I remembered Jen. I remember reading the dove is a sign of the Holy Ghost, and that the devil cannot appear in the form of a dove. It is an emblem of innocence.
I remember wondering how to mourn someone who wasn’t dead that now had to be dead to me.
I remember darkness kept creeping up on me, and I remember crying out to God for help because I couldn’t do this on my own. I remember the concussions and the ptsd from my accident, and the grief of losing my business, my best friend, and being asked to stay in the very place where i'd be constantly reminded of them. I remember the darkness surrounding me, and driving and something seemed to be pulling me into a family history center, of which I’d never been in. I remember doing baptisms and temple work in behalf of my deceased ancestors and feeling that they were doing work for me too. I remember feeling this enormous amount of protection, and the darkness leaving me. I remember the verse "stand ye in holy places, and be not moved."
I remember the dark night with evil thoughts persisting in my mind, and waking up and telling God I knew the exact opposite was true. I remember being told to bear my testimony that day, and I remember doing it in this ward that wasn't my own. I remember Elder Renlund was there and at the end of the meeting I remember him standing up and coming directly to me in the audience and shaking my hand, and my sisters, and then leaving the building instantly. I remember looking at him as he explained to me who he was, and saying "I know" as tears welled up in my eyes because nothing else would come out. I remember the divine love that surrounded him and I remember knowing that darkness always preceeds great light.
I remember asking why every time I loved someone, why were they taken away? It seemed like every single time I followed through with loving who God placed in my path they were just taken from me and the grief became unbearable.
I remember the three people before- and being asked to let them go. I remember being treated like a queen by them, and I remember our prayers to progress and I remember them telling me they were told not to touch me, because I'm not theirs. I remember wondering what the heck that meant. I remember going to all of their weddings and being happy for them because they found their person. I remember knowing God had another plan for me.
I remember asking what was happening and why? I remember reading about Job, and that no matter what he praised God and I remember praying for my friend to feel love from God and his deceased mom because I knew it was a hard blow for both of us.
I remember telling God I loved Him and trust Him, no matter what. I remember moving into and renting my friends basement and us laying in the garage laughing and crying at the strange storm upon us.
I remember feeling grateful just to have one friend.
I remember praying so hard for my family and friends cause it seemed everyone I loved was being heavily influenced by the adversary. I remember I just wanted them to be shielded from these storms.
I remember wishing I just could be everyone's mom. I remember the darling boy that came into my life and helped me heal from my grief, and the beating that he took while I didn't know how to let myself be loved after such a painful loss.
I remember that painful ending and knowing because of us the hurtful things I did to other people without knowing it. I remember feeling like a failure and so lost and wondering why I was asked to go on this journey in the first place. Why did I have to date that boy before I even felt ready only to feel slain in the process?
I remember teaching seminary and getting ripped to shreds in pre-service. I remember not being well received. I remember not caring cause I loved the kids and I wanted them to know of heaven. I remember wondering why God sent me there... when I just felt like I was getting the crap beat out of me.. I remember thinking "I'll never be as holy as these people, WHY AM I HERE?" I remember my old bishop sending me a scripture randomly that said "I am able to make you holy" and knowing whatever God was doing, he was trying to make me holy. I remember my amazing stake presidency randomly calling me as I cried to God again for help, and the message declaring, "Bobbi we're on the same team, and God wants you to know you are loved" And him telling me the story of the deer that a man ran into that wrecked his car and he was told "that dear just saved your life" and him going to the hospital not knowing without that deer he would have had a stroke and potentially lost his life. That deer just saved his life.
I remember knowing that boy just saved my life, because I was getting to a dark place and that God was trying to help me. The same strange behaviors he had, I was also doing, and it helped me change my course. I remember knowing sacrifice was so hard, and wondering why when we are trying to do what is right do we suffer? I remember reading that Joseph and Paul gloried in tribulation. I remember the boy that tried to convince me I wasn't good enough to be working at the temple, and I remember reading right after that, "continue your work at the temple and let it not cease" I remember thinking perhaps I too just have to swim in deep water.
I remember telling God I sacrificed willingly but it doesn't mean you stop loving what you lost. I remember asking for greater understanding and reading the vision of Joseph Fielding Smith with my seminary class that day and the light that entered the room. I remember knowing we were in the presence of something very holy, as we read of Joseph’s grief of losing everything he loved , and the vision that followed his plea to understand.
He spoke of the suffering of Jesus Christ and his eyes were opened.
“As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead both small and great.
And there were gathered together in one place and innumerable company of the spirits of the just who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name. All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
Why do we suffer? Perhaps, in suffering we come to know God in ways we couldn’t have in any other way. And as two slain prophets declared in spirit to their weeping mother, “weep not for us, we have overcome the world with love”
I don’t know why we are required to suffer, but I do know that God lives and he loves His children. I know that Jesus Christ descended below all things, and that if I descend below a couple things, I will gain more of a deep love for Him. I know that one light in a sea of darkness will save the lives of those who are lost. I know that praying for God’s perfect love literally will cast out darkness in others, and that we are not the light, but the bearer of His light… I know our hearts are changed as we pray for our enemies and do good to them who hate us. I know it’s not about why hard things happen, but about asking God to love and bless and use His power in you to help heal others because of the things that have gone array in your own life.
God lives, he loves and HE does his work in such mysterious way. May we all count it but dung that we might win Christ.
Grief is so strange. One minute you're happy, and you're living and progressing, and the next you see a little reminder that brings on a flashback of memories. Memories that bring up this lump in your throat, tears in your eyes, and you are overcome with emotion.
Some might try to push those things away, but grief, it can be our greatest teacher. Grief, and sadness, they remind us, when we've forgotten of the beautiful fragility underneath all things.
Thank you Jen, and the on call doves. For reminding me, of the beautiful fragility underneath all things.