Farewell to a friend

This past weekend members of the Church in the southeastern region of the United States were treated to a broadcast from Salt Lake City as part of Stake Conference.  Among the speakers Sunday morning were Elder Dallin H. Oaks and President Thomas S. Monson.

Jonathan was really looking forward to watching this “movie.”  When Elder Oaks stood to speak, this brief exchange between Jonathan and Cassia took place:

Jonathan: Look Mommy, there’s President Hinckley!

Cassia: No, son.  That’s Elder Oaks.

Jonathan: Oh.  Mommy, President Hinckley’s my friend.

We felt it was important to tell Jonathan what happened to his friend later that day.  On Monday night, we decided to have a Family Home Evening lesson about succession in the First Presidency.  We began by singing “Families Can Be Together Forever” (one of Jonathan’s favorites), after which I showed Jonathan the cover of the November 2007 Ensign.

Bryan: Jonathan, who’s this?

Jonathan: That’s President Hinckley.  He’s my friend.  Who’s this, Daddy?

Bryan: That’s President Monson.

Jonathan: And who’s this?

Bryan: That’s President Eyring.  Jonathan, something very special happened to President Hinckley yesterday.

Jonathan: What, Daddy?

Bryan: Yesterday President Hinckley died, and he went to be with Heavenly Father and his wife and his mommy and daddy again.  He went away and we’re not going to see him again for a very long time.  But when Jesus comes back to Earth, President Hinckley will be with him.

We tried to explain that President Monson would likely be the next prophet, but we were losing his attention pretty quickly.  Jonathan barely comprehends death, which is a pretty difficult subject to explain to a 3-year-old in the first place.  But we felt it was important for him to know what had happened to his friend.

Jonathan never met President Hinckley in person.  All he knew of him was what he saw in General Conference broadcasts for pictures in Church magazines.  But it was enough for him to be counted just as much a friend as Jonathan’s favorite playmates.

That tells you something about the spiritual “presence” of a prophet, if you will.  But I think it says much more about the caliber of the man.



3 Responses to “Farewell to a friend”

  1. Thanks for sharing that sweet experience. I have had several discussions with Brian and my family about the very real presence that President Hinckley had in our lives without ever being a physical presence. We are blessed to have a prophet as part of our every day life and it is very special that Jonathan feels that.

  2. Oh. Yeah it is hard at times to lose a good person (Or friend ) THe other day my piano teacher (Sis. Crow) said that she tried telling her two year old son that President Hinckly had died and his response was Oh (In a sad sort of tone)

  3. Oh… “President Hinckley is my friend” is the sweetest thing I have heard all week! Go you for teaching the right :) Love from UTAH!!!

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