Heaven Was So Close

Heaven Was So Close

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Heaven Was So Close

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

Ps. 4:8

Life had always been a little different for me, but it was about to be turned upside down—and I didn’t even know it. I was busily involved in preparing for my wedding, which was due to take place in December 2002. My fiancé had flown in from Utah, and we were enjoying the time that we were spending together—even if it was filled with wedding-dress fittings, flower selection and all the other frills that go along with a wedding.

It was a normal October evening, and I had gone to bed, but found myself unable to sleep because of a pain in my neck; eventually, I did manage to get to sleep. I awoke the next morning still not feeling well. I mentioned my difficulty sleeping to my mother and fiancé; it was then that they noticed that my neck was very swollen on one side. We called the doctor but were unable to arrange an appointment, so we decided I should probably go to the emergency department at my local hospital. When I arrived, they gave me some medication, as my temperature was dangerously high. The doctor was unable to determine what was wrong with me, and sent me home.

Later the following week, I could feel pressure on the front of my throat, and noticed that the swelling had spread to the front of my neck. We made an emergency appointment with our family doctor. I was admitted to the hospital right away, as there was danger of my windpipe collapsing. In the hospital, numerous unpleasant tests were run to try to discover what the problem was. Fluid was drawn from my neck and sent for biopsy; it was a painful procedure, but my mother and fiancé were with me through it all.

Months passed, and repeated biopsies were taken to try to determine if the mass in my neck was cancerous. Each time, the results came back as being inconclusive.

As my wedding day drew nearer, we decided to postpone the wedding; I was sick, and we thought it was probably better to wait. Christmas came and went; it was a wonderful time with my family and fiancé there with me, and we were almost able to forget what the future might have in store. January arrived all too quickly, and it was almost time for him to leave and fly back home. We decided I would fly to Utah with him so that I could have a break before the surgery I was scheduled to undergo.

A couple of days before we were due to leave, I had to have one final test—a scan, during which more fluid would be drawn from the front of my throat. The next day I received a telephone call from the doctor who was to perform my surgery; he told me not to go to Utah, as there was a danger that the tumor in my neck would collapse my windpipe. He also told me I needed to prepare myself for the fact that the tumor might well be cancerous. My fiancé had to leave without me—and I had no idea that it would be the last time I would ever see him.

Over the next few weeks I spent most of my time thinking about how I was supposed to come to terms with the fact that, at the age of twenty-seven, I might have cancer. Throughout it all, I tried desperately to hide the fear I felt from my family and friends.

My surgery was scheduled for a Monday. A stake fast had been organized on my behalf and was due to start the Sunday evening before the surgery. It was such a humbling experience to think that there were people who were willing to fast for me. I had never been so scared in my life; the prospect of having the surgery was the most terrifying thing I had ever faced, and I found myself unable to cope with the prospects that awaited me. I spent most of the day crying; I couldn’t hide it any longer. Then my miracle happened: The stake fast began.

I don’t know how many people fasted for me, but regardless of whether it was five or five hundred, the Lord truly heard their prayers. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. Every bit of fear that I had felt left me; I was totally at peace. I slept better than I had in months. The next morning I awoke and drove to the hospital with my parents. I don’t remember much about that morning, but what I will always remember are the feelings that I had inside. It is difficult to find words to describe it! There is no doubt that when I needed Him most, the Savior carried me! I could literally feel myself being carried. I knew that no matter what the outcome of the surgery, everything would be okay, that I wasn’t alone and that I never had been. Heaven was so close that day that I felt I could easily reach out and feel the Savior’s hand.

The surgery was a little more complicated than was expected, because the tumor was larger than the doctors had initially thought, but they were able to remove it successfully. Although I was in pain and had a lot of bruising, I had never felt more peaceful at any point in my life. I didn’t want the feeling to ever end.

After two weeks of waiting, I learned that the tumor was benign.

Not long after that, my fiancé ended our engagement. A month later, my grandmother, to whom I was extremely close, passed away unexpectedly.

I have learned that life doesn’t always turn out the way that we plan, or even the way we want it to. I am still single at the age of twenty-nine, but I am single with an even stronger testimony of a loving Heavenly Father who will never leave me alone. When there are things that are difficult to come to terms with, I know I can turn them over to the Lord. We are His, and He will always remind us of that at the times we need it the most.

My life has changed so much from that happy holiday spent with my family, but it is okay. I am His, and He will carry me when I need Him to. There is nothing I wouldn’t give to experience once more the feelings I had that day as a result of faithful members who fasted on my behalf.

I learned that each of us has an inner power that we can hold on to, and that power is the knowledge that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings. We are part of a great and perfect plan, and each of us has a unique role within it. I have felt the peace that can be ours when we come to that knowledge, and I will be eternally grateful for it. There is nothing we cannot overcome with the help of the Lord.

Kirsty Hale

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