“It was the worst moment of my life,” Natasha said, speaking of the day she found her 23-year-old son, Memphis, dead. “I pulled into my driveway and saw my 12-year-old son weeping over his brother as he lay lifeless on the porch.”
Memphis was a “Mama’s boy.” He was kind and affectionate with his mother, and he didn’t care if his friends saw it. Losing Memphis marked the peak of what had been three continuous years of trial, heartache and loss.
“In 2016, I had a stroke,” said Natasha. “One year later Memphis died. Then in 2018, I had another stroke, which was so severe it put me in a wheelchair and took away the use of my left hand.”
Natasha, a mother of seven and a retired teacher, was an exceptionally gifted pianist. She started learning music at six years old, and by the age of eleven was the pianist in her stake. Her passion for music continued all through her adulthood until it was suddenly taken from her.
“In those three short years, I lost two of the most precious things in my life; my son and my music,” Natasha said. “But I cannot blame God. I agreed to come to this earth to be tried and tested. My Father in Heaven provides me with the very air I breathe, and it is through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, that I will overcome all my trials.”
Though nothing can fully prepare a person for this kind of loss and grief, Natasha is grateful for a loving seminary teacher who taught her, in her youth, to love the scriptures and a family who taught her to pray always.
“I was raised to fall on my knees and pray when times get tough. It’s a habit now. Even in the thickest moments of darkness when I might have felt anger, my instinct was to cry out to God for rescue and support. Thanks to my seminary teacher, finding strength in the scriptures is a habit too.”
Natasha’s trials are not yet over. The numerous effects of the strokes continue to make life very difficult, and the loss of her son will stay with her forever, but Natasha is focused on the positives of her situation.
“I will never take simple things like standing and walking for granted again,” she said. “I live in the moment and enjoy the beauty of God’s creations that surround me.
“I know that God allows us to experience loss in order to prove us, but I also know that everything I have lost I will find again either in this life or the next; I will see my son again and I will play the piano again.”
Natasha still plays the piano for her ward sacrament meetings—now using only her right hand. Though the members of her ward used to love hearing her expert arrangements of the hymns as they sang, even more uplifting is the sight of her sitting at the piano, playing with her one useful hand, refusing to give up, and enjoying the privilege to serve the Lord.
“My hope and faith are in God,” she said. “Not everyone will lose a child or end up in a wheelchair like me. But regardless of our differences, we all need the Lord. Perhaps I am now more aware of my dependence on God, but I am just like everyone else in my need for Him every day in every way.”
Life is still very difficult, Natasha doesn’t have a modified shower in her home and has to go to the local swimming pool every day to use their shower for the disabled, but with the support of loving ward members, Natasha has managed to keep her simple yet powerful goal to attend church every Sunday.
“On Sunday mornings one of the sisters comes over to take me to the pools for a shower, then brings me to church by 9:00 am.
“I make sure to do all I can to make it to church, because I know that God is real. He hears our prayers. This is His Church. This is where I will find rescue from my trials. I know that there is no other way to ease my burdens than to take upon me the yoke of Christ.”