As this anniversary comes up, I always find myself thinking about Rachael and wondering how to memorialize her. We are not making any new memories together, and as the years pass my memories fade and I remember only the things that I have recorded in previous years. Today marks nine years since my sister died. Although I remember her as a genuinely happy, spunky person there is one indelible impression she has left on my life, and that was because of her death. That moment and the months and years after have helped me develop an unwavering testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and eternal families.
The family is central to God's plan -- it is a necessary part of his plan. I love that. We were put into families by design. When I was a MiaMaid, one of my leaders mentioned how she would always say, "I love you" to family members and it wasn't a big deal. It made me think about how I rarely said that to my parents or siblings. I decided that day that I wouldn't make it a big deal to tell them that I loved them. I did love them so why couldn't I say it? From that day on, I said it to my parents and siblings every time we parted ways, so it would be the last thing they heard me say. When Rachael died, I felt more united with my family as I expressed my love for them and they did the same.
I remember the incredibly sweet comfort the Spirit brought to me before I knew that I would need to be comforted. It is amazing how the feelings of peace and understanding can come when there should be so little peace and there is so little understanding. I trusted in the Lord. I wanted something so badly that it hurt my heart and yet I still trusted in the Lord. Rachael was not found alive. I prayed and prayed and the answer was "No." This is the exact model of faith and trust that the Savior gave us. He prayed to the Father in agony and said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done" (JST, Luke 22:42).
President Uchtdorf said, "There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God's light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn."
I am grateful for the example Rachael was to me in her life and death. Her death made my testimony real and alive, something I could put words and feelings to instead of a rote and immature testimony. I doubt she realized how much she mattered to everyone who met her. She made love, service, and happiness look easy, just as they should be. Without a doubt, "because I knew [her], I have been changed for good."