I could not have timed Dexter's passing more perfectly. The Lord knows us so well. His mercies have been apparent to us since Dexter's birth. Dexter didn't breathe on his own when he was born. He took a few feeble gasps, but that was it. The Lord could have taken him home then. Looking back, losing him then would have been so much harder for me. I'm sure I would have come to accept that it was the Lord's will and eventually been OK with it, but how merciful for the Lord to allow me to get to that point of submissive acceptance while enjoying Dexter's sweet presence! What a tender blessing! These past three months have been a time of accelerated progress and growth for us as we've come to a new level of dependence on God. Dexter's time here was a generous gift to us.
According to God's timing, Dexter passed during the Easter season. There is new depth as I sing the words, "Oh sweet the joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives!" I love seeing the trees and bushes bud. We enjoyed planting the tulips from Dexter's service in a little memorial garden in our yard; their beauty reminds us of the life and hope made possible by Christ’s Resurrection. I'm hoping that the bulbs take root so that each spring, the tulips will blossom to remind us that though Dexter’s body currently sleeps in the ground, he too will be raised to life again.
His passing was also right before the spiritual feast of General Conference. The Lord knew we needed that weekend of refreshing. I felt my focus sharpen and my resolution to move forward in God's service strengthen. So many of the messages spoke directly to me in ways that a personal conversation couldn't have. President Monson, Elder Scott, and Elder Pino all told stories of losing infants and children, which obviously hit home, but their circumstances were so much more tragic than ours that it served to keep our loss in perspective. We've got it easy by comparison! Elder Snow gave a very direct message about getting on with our lives after unwelcome changes. If a friend said that to me right now, it might sound rude, but coming from the pulpit, it was reaffirming of the feelings I’ve had about needing to move forward. Elder Snow told the story of a man who “demonstrated strong, unbending faith with amazing good humor and grace” though his trials. Doesn’t that sound appealing? I want to do that, no matter what. And the three messages about finding strength through improved temple worship reminded me of the strength we have because of the temple covenants we’ve made. It was another wonderful General Conference.
Since Mirien’s family came out for the funeral, I got to hold my little five-month-old niece, Haley, who is almost the exact size that Dexter was. She’s adorable, bright-eyed, smiley, and lively. Of course I knew that Dexter didn’t do the things most babies do; it was painfully obvious. But holding Haley I realized just how behind little Dexter was and I felt grateful that the Lord was merciful enough to free Dexter from a body that didn’t work. I thought of Dexter’s powerful spirit and how valiantly he must have fought for agency in the war in heaven. How frustrating for such a spirit to be in a body that wouldn’t let him exercise this agency. He couldn’t even choose to make eye contact with his mother or wiggle his legs! He had gotten to where the only time he moved was when he was having a seizure. It really is better for him to be where he is. He accomplished his mission on this Earth and now he can accomplish his mission in the Spirit world. As Elodie matter-of-factly states when I ask what Dexter’s doing, “he’s doing work.” On the night of his death, I read D&C 138 and felt so excited that Dexter was laboring joyfully rather than lying around doing nothing. And before the funeral as I was looking at picture after picture of Dexter in the hospital, I thought, “Dexter could be lying in a hospital bed right now, supported by a ventilator. I am so grateful that he is where he is.” The Lord was gracious in inspiring us to make the decisions that allowed Dexter to return when his time on earth was done. I am so grateful that the Lord taught us to follow, accept, and now, even embrace His timing.