“Don’t Grieve for David,” Ensign, Feb. 1984, 56–57
David was our first child, a healthy, normal-looking boy with beautiful, bright blue eyes and a smile that could melt your heart. As any young parents would be, we were thrilled with our new son and brought him into a home full of love. I remember how I would hold him and look at his darling little face as I dreamed of myriad bright futures for him. Mostly, I hoped that he would have a good, happy life and possibly accomplish some good in the world.
It was not until David was about six months old that we suspected anything was wrong. As anxious young parents, we watched with growing concern as the months passed, and realized that our little boy was not sitting up well when he should have been. We also noticed that he did not pick things up and put them in his mouth, as most babies do. But he was a happy child and very alert. He smiled and cooed and his eyes would light up with a show of excitement whenever anyone spoke to him.
Our pediatrician told us he was just a little slow; all examinations showed that he was in excellent health. But there were times when I would get the strong feeling that something was wrong—that I would not always have him and must enjoy every moment I had with him.
The day came when all my fears were realized. When David was about a year old we took him to a specialist and learned the heartbreaking news: “symmetrical mental retardation,” the doctor said. “Nothing can be done. Just take him home and love him.”
I’ll never forget that awful day. My husband and I drove the forty-five miles from the doctor’s office in silence. I didn’t really cry much then—not outwardly—that came later, and later, and later—more times than I could ever count. I kept saying to myself, “No, it can’t be true. It can’t be true!”
But it was true. The x-rays, the electroencephalograms, the blood tests were all normal, yet for some unknown reason David was not developing normally, and only by some great miracle would he ever do so.
We prayed for such a miracle. We asked for priesthood blessings. But as time went on and there was no change, we began to understand that there must be a reason for David’s being the way he was, and we knew we must learn to accept it. But still, I grieved for him. My mind could accept his condition, but my heart could not.
David’s condition was the first real sorrow I had known, and it took me a long time to reconcile myself to his experience in mortality. But as I read the scriptures, I learned that there is a blessing sent from God in every burden of sorrow. I have tried to think of David in that light. Though at times his condition was very difficult to bear, he truly was a blessing in our lives. David could not express himself very well—we’re not sure how much about the world he understood—but he could say “I love you,” and the glow of his smile and the warmth of his strong hug told us many things that words don’t always say. Through him I learned what it means to love as a child loves; in his innocence, David loved everyone. People were drawn to him by his love and sweetness, in spite of his differences, his awkward gait, his slow way of doing things.
Our David is no longer with us. At the age of nineteen, David unexpectedly passed into another world, where I believe he is busily engaged in doing the things he could not do here. Free of his own limitations of body and mind, he can now serve the Lord with all his talents in teaching the gospel of love—that great work for which David had such a great capacity.
We miss our son, but we do not grieve for him. Our work is now for ourselves and the rest of our family, who must go on in the struggle for eternal progression. We rejoice in the knowledge that David has gone to be with the righteous, and that in some ways he has gone to better circumstances, even with all the love we gave him. And what could be better than the love we gave him? Only the glorious and eternal love of God.
Elder Melvin J. Ballard once said, “We cannot always understand the plan of the Almighty—the thing that seems like a disaster is often a blessing in disguise.”