Thursday's Thought

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Last week, our friend and ward member Mark Benson passed away after a battle with cancer (see Help Mark Fight). I had the opportunity to attend his memorial yesterday. The service's words and music touched and inspired me. I want to share what I felt; I don't know that I can convey everything, but I'll do my best.

Mark was a 41 year old father of three little girls. His was the oldest of several brothers and sisters. Diagnosed with a severe form of leukemia in February, he has been in the hospital almost non-stop trying to fight the disease.

As some of his siblings spoke about him, I was so impressed by the great relationship he had with each one, how each one remembered how Mark constantly made them feel special and loved and how he looked after each one. They also talked about his deep love for his wife and shared some information about the sacred moments they shared just before his death. It reminded me that I want to make sure my family relationships continue to grow and flourish, how I can never take them for granted.

One of his brothers emphasized how important all relationships were to Mark. He made every effort to befriend and understand those around him. I can personally attest to that.

He empathized with us when Caroline was born. When she had her baby blessing last year, Mark talked with us afterwards about how it reminded him of Maddie's blessing (his oldest daughter was born with Down Syndrome) and how special his daughter is to him and what a poignant time that was. He and his wife Michelle have helped us see how to turn a trial into a blessing.

Another sibling shared one of Mark's sayings - he always said that he cared more about how people felt than what they thought. I can definitely do better at worrying less about what people think.

His death leaves many questions - for example, why would he be taken at such a young age - he's so needed by his family and he had much to offer the world for years to come? Our bishop talked about that and read from D&C 101, where it says that, in the midst of very difficult, incomprehensible trials, we can trust that God understands our pain and has a plan for us. He loves us with a perfect love.

Finally, Mark's sisters did a violin duet of the hymn "Be Still, My Soul" - the words in the hymn captured the message at the funeral and the feelings in my heart, not only during the funeral but for the last 18 months with Caroline:

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side; with patience bear thy cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God to order and provide; in ev’ry change he faithful will remain. Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake; all now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: The hour is hast’ning on when we shall be forever with the Lord, when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

PS - His extended family has set up a donation fund to help his wife and children with medical bills, cost of living, etc. If you can, I know that they would appreciate a donation. Thanks. (see the sidebar of Help Mark Fight for information)

PPS - Happy 18-month bday to Caroline.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write down your feelings. I remember Mark from the day Caroline was blessed and he impressed me then when he talked about his daughter and the responsibility he felt to protect this innocent daughter of God. I'm very sorry to learn of his death.

    On a happier note, Happy Happy 18 months, Caroline! XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX


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