“Letting Go,” New Era, Dec. 2012, 32–33
My brother Bryce and I have been best friends since we were little. I remember afternoons when we’d compete to see who could catch the most bees in a clear plastic cup or he’d “catch” ants on a piece of licorice.
When we were a little older, we read poetry and went for ice cream together, and everyone told us how lucky we were to have each other. Eventually I graduated from high school and went to college 750 miles away. Two years later he followed me. That year together at school was one of the best of my life. It was great to have him close again. But we both knew change was inevitable.
As Bryce’s 19th birthday got closer, we would talk for hours about how excited we both were for him to serve. We couldn’t wait to see where the Lord would ask him to go. The day finally came, and our family gathered as he read us the letter calling him to North Carolina. He’d report to the missionary training center in less than two months.
Suddenly, the reality that Bryce would be leaving hit me with more force than I’d ever imagined it would. That night I poured out my heart, begging Heavenly Father to send me peace. I would miss Bryce so much. It wasn’t that I didn’t think a mission was the right choice. We’d both known it was since we were little. I just needed comfort so I could support my brother as he prepared to enter the mission field.
One night, just a few weeks before Bryce would enter the missionary training center, the Spirit was especially strong as I prayed. I cried, telling Heavenly Father all the things Bryce might miss. Then a thought entered my heart: “Shelli, this is just mortality.” I opened my tearful eyes and looked up, wondering at its simplicity. I smiled, realizing that we were a family and that the blessings of our parents’ temple sealing could hold us together forever. Yes, Bryce was going to miss a lot, but we’d have an eternity to catch up.
The day we took Bryce to the missionary training center was one of the best days of my life. I’d been with him while he shopped for suits and journals, but nothing prepared me for what I saw that day. He was really a missionary. As I hugged him good-bye, I said a silent prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for this wonderful young man and all the years of friendship we’d shared. Those years had truly been a gift. And now, the next two years would be a gift to Him.