“Touched by Their Faith,” Ensign, Aug. 1997, 65–66
I met Jeanne on a diving board at the high school pool in Redondo Beach, California. I was doing some pretty bad dives, and she was watching. Afterward she came up to me and said, “Hey, do you want to learn how to do that right?” From that time on we became best friends.
Jeanne and I did everything together. We even called each other “Sis” after I dated her older brother. At one point in our friendship, I agreed to take the first missionary discussion; but I just wasn’t interested, and it went no further.
We were finally separated when my family moved several states away from California. But five years and many letters later, Jeanne brought Brennan, her first child, to see me in Colorado when he was just four weeks old. I absolutely adored that sweet little baby boy.
After Jeanne’s visit, my mom and I crafted a baby gown for Brennan in fine Catholic tradition—pure white and long, with novelty buttons down the front. The gown was to be for Brennan’s blessing, which I didn’t understand but wanted to participate in nonetheless. Jeanne later told me that in Brennan’s blessing, he was promised that he would be a great missionary and help convert many people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
One early winter morning, I picked up the phone to hear Jeanne’s ragged, tear-choked voice. I caught only the last wailing sentence: “Brennan died.”
“Sis, I’ll be there tomorrow afternoon. Hang on.” I hung up the phone and gave vent to my own grief. I was angry that a tiny baby could be torn from his parents’ loving arms.
When I got off the plane in California, I rushed to put my arms around my dear friend. She was pale, with indescribable pain reflecting in her eyes.
That night I got the whole story. There had been an accident involving Brennan’s infant seat flipping off the couch. The ambulance was called. Jeanne sat by her baby’s bedside for two days. Early the last morning, Brennan passed away as Jeanne held and rocked him for the last time on this earth.
Jeanne asked me if I would mind if Brennan was buried in the blessing gown my mother and I had made for him. I told her I would be honored.
During the funeral service, the bishop said words of comfort over that tiny white coffin. He said that because Brennan was born under the covenant, his parents would again cradle him in eternity. I thought bitterly, A lot of good that does right now.
After the funeral, Jeanne and Tom, her husband, invited me to drive with them to Salt Lake City. I tried to decline so they could be alone together, but they insisted that I accompany them. During the drive, I was amazed to feel Tom and Jeanne’s peace despite their grieving hearts. When we arrived in Salt Lake City, the couple wanted to go to Temple Square to see the Christmas lights.
It was evening when we got there. As I turned the corner of one of the buildings, my eyes were drawn upward to a statue in the visitors’ center, the Christus. It seemed to be beckoning, “Come, follow me.”
“I’ve got to see that up close,” I told Jeanne. She was overjoyed to take me into the building and find me some literature on the statue.
All the way back to California, I read and asked questions. Jeanne gave me a Book of Mormon with pictures of herself and Brennan taped inside. Later, I read the book all the way home to Colorado, and I was filled with love to find a church that gave a young, grieving couple the faith to go on and the knowledge that they would again be a family in eternity.
After I got home, I came across Moroni 10:4 [Moro. 10:4], in which Moroni challenges the reader to pray about the book’s truthfulness. I immediately got down on my knees and asked if these things were true and if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true church of Jesus Christ here on the earth. The answer I received was indescribably soft yet undeniably firm: yes.
I was baptized on 23 February 1985 by a young missionary elder, but the missionary who played the biggest role in my conversion was a little spirit who was on this earth for only a short time: Brennan Thomas Hansen.