The Journey Home
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“The Journey Home,” Liahona, Apr. 1997, 32

The Journey Home

My younger brother was going on his first date. I had called home from college to talk to Mom, and she told me that Chris was preparing to leave soon. I insisted on talking to him, and Chris and I visited for a few minutes. I told him I loved him and was very proud of him, and we said good-bye.

That was the last time I spoke to my brother. Less than two weeks later, I received the news that Chris had died in a car accident, and I needed to come home.

A flood of memories washed over me as I made the long journey of more than 3,200 kilometers home.

As I settled into my seat on the airplane, I remembered fondly the day we picked up my mother and baby Chris from the hospital. I was only three and a half years old, but I remember that moment clearly. Mom had wrapped him in a yellow blanket she had made for him, and he was with her in the front seat as we drove home in our old station wagon. I was sitting in the backseat with the rest of my family, but I couldn’t help leaning as far forward as I could to see my new baby brother.

I remembered the time one of my older brothers and I wrapped five-year-old Chris in bathroom tissue until he looked like an Egyptian mummy. His blond hair was barely visible through the white tissue covering his entire body.

About a year later, Chris fell and broke his arm because he was following my lead and jumping on and off Mom and Dad’s bed. Mom quickly let me know that it was my fault, too, for being such a bad example. I felt so bad for him that I decided right then that I would try to be a better sister to my younger brother. And I was. Chris really looked up to me, Mom said.

Before long I was looking up to him. When I came home for Christmas after my first semester at college, I was surprised to find that Chris had outgrown me by a couple of inches. I looked up to him, but not just because of his height. Chris had turned into an impressive young man.

He often shared his spiritual experiences with me. One night when I was in high school, Chris and I were outside on the driveway looking at the stars. It was a beautiful, clear night, and we were reluctant to go inside. We started to talk about the beauty of the earth and all of God’s creations. Chris bore his testimony to me, and I remember thinking how proud I was of him.

Chris and I were friends, and although we didn’t always get along, we were always glad to be brother and sister. I took my job as older sister very seriously. I taught him how to dance, how to drive a car with a manual transmission, and how to be a gentleman. Every year after I got my driver’s license, we would go shopping for Christmas gifts together and talk about anything and everything.

As the memories flooded my mind, I wished with all my heart that I could have had one more chance to hug my little brother and tell him how much I loved him. Tears streamed down my face as I heard an answer to my heartfelt desire. “You will,” a clear voice spoke comfort to my mind. “You will.”

I knew it would be a long time before I would see Chris again, but the sweet peace of the Comforter had now filled me with hope. I knew with certainty that Chris’s spirit was not dead. Because of the Savior, I could someday see Chris again. Jesus Christ died for us that we might live, that through our faithfulness we might return to our Heavenly Father, that families might be together forever. I could be with my younger brother again because Jesus Christ had provided the way!

As I stared out the airplane window at the clouds and sky, I prayed that both Chris and the Savior would know how much I missed and loved them. And I prayed for strength to do what is right so that I might be able to be with them again.

When the airplane landed for refueling, I wiped away my tears. I knew that the rest of the journey home to my family would be difficult, but with the Lord’s help, I would make it. And I know, too, that with the Savior’s help I can make it home to my Father in Heaven to be with my family and loved ones there.

Family photographs of Chris. Bottom: Chris, at right, with his sisters, from left, Jennifer, Veronica, and Michelle; his sister-in-law, Amy, rear; and his brother, Vernon. (Photography courtesy of Jennifer Gantt Absher.)