“Death Is a New Beginning,” Ensign, Sept. 2004, 70
My parents were baptized on 18 August 1978. I was 5 years old; my sister, Noelia, was just 5 months old; and my brother, Luis, was born 11 years later. We were sealed in the Guatemala City Guatemala Temple in June 1988. I can still remember the beautiful scene: we were dressed in white, uniting our family into eternity.
We were a stable, united, and active family, and our lives seemed perfect. But even when we stay close to the commandments, have testimonies of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and Their work, and aspire to achieve exaltation, adversity will come.
In January 1999 my father had a serious accident and was admitted to intensive care, where he was able to breathe only with the help of a respirator. He suffered hematomas, which caused swelling of the brain.
When the rest of the family learned of his condition, we immediately went to the hospital. As a physician, I knew the outlook was dim. Nevertheless, we fasted, prayed, and trusted in our Heavenly Father to restore my father so that soon, despite any aftereffects or the treatments he might need, he would come home again and be the wonderful guide and protector he had always been. As we fasted and prayed, I felt my faith grow stronger, and I anxiously waited for him to open his eyes and start to recover.
Visits from our inspired bishop were a constant strength during this trial. He gave my father a priesthood blessing, and we waited for a change.
Since my father did not improve, we began to wonder if our pleadings were really in accordance with Heavenly Father’s will. One night the bishop, after giving us blessings, talked to us about the plan of salvation and told us that when someone is blessed to recover, he or she will live if not appointed unto death (see D&C 42:48). He also gave us a copy of “Tragedy or Destiny” (see Improvement Era, Mar. 1966, 178–80, 210–17), a talk by President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985). The bishop urged us to ask God what plans He had. After we said good-bye to the bishop, I decided with much sorrow to follow his counsel. I was able to learn that my father’s time on earth had come to an end.
Complications arose, and my father’s condition deteriorated even more. His natural strength abated before our eyes, and we knew that this was a confirmation of what was going to happen. I worried that my pain at losing him would become so great I would lose my faith and vision and not be able to endure. But that isn’t what happened.
Never before had the wonderful plan of happiness had the meaning it now had in my life. I was able to feel a peace that tempered my emotions. It opened my eyes and mind and enabled me to understand to a limited extent the greatness, glory, and majesty of life and the importance of this brief time on earth.
The time came to tell my father, “Until we meet again.” Nine days after the accident, he died. I was with him as he reached the end of his earthly existence, but now I had a different understanding. I was able to feel how sweetly our Heavenly Father loves us and how He prepares the necessary opportunities for us to become as He is.
My confidence is complete that the day will come, if we endure to the end, when through the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will rise clothed in glory, immortality, and eternal life. Death is just a new beginning.