Friday, February 22, 2013

Dear Joshua

At Joshua's funeral, Tim and I both felt very strongly that we needed to speak.  We were the ones that knew Joshua best and we were the ones that had the most to say.  I wanted to share the words that I spoke at the funeral.  I am grateful I have them written down because on the hard days, I can read through the words and the spirit of the Lord brings back the peace that I felt when I first wrote them.

 


I am overwhelmed by the love and support we have received over the last few months and especially the past few days.  It is sometimes hard to believe that a little person who was here for such a short amount of time could have impacted so many people.  I am sorry for those of you who did not get to meet Joshua, but I hope you have felt his sweet spirit today and that we can help you understand a little of who he was.

I have thought long and hard about what I want to say today.  So many things have been running through my head.  However, the night after Joshua’s passing, I had a very difficult time sleeping and decided to just start typing my thoughts.  They ended up being a letter to my boy and I wanted to share that letter with you today.  

My dear sweet Joshua-

Oh what a blessing the last two and a half months have been for me as your mother.  As I ponder your short life, I can’t help but think about why you were sent to us and what your mission was on this earth.  Some may question whether a spirit can fulfill a mission in such a short amount of time, but as one of the people closest to you, I can testify that you were able to complete so much.  The Lord is so pleased with the way you dealt with your trials and all you were able to accomplish.  Let me outline just a few of those accomplishments. 

    1)  First, you radiated the Holy Spirit.  I can’t tell you the countless times people would walk into your room and make note of how special you were.  Every nurse, every doctor, every visitor, and even other patients would comment on you.  I can testify that the Lord’s love shined through those beautiful, dark eyes and he was able to use you as his instrument to help people feel that love.  Just look at all the people that have come here today to celebrate you…even those you did not meet felt that.  What a special gift the Lord gave you and you used it perfectly. 

    2) Next, you taught us to live in the moment.  So often here in mortality, Joshua, we sometimes forget how short of a time we have here.  You probably don’t really understand that completely because of your situation, but as we get older sometimes we take for granted how much time we have and we tend to put things off.  When you were first born, we had no idea how long we would be able to keep you, so your father and I cherished every single moment.  Every snuggle, every kiss on the cheek, every smile and pleasant look, and even every cry.  Every second of your short life was a blessing. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant moments have become cherished memories.  I now know that it is in those moments that the truest joy can be found and I will transfer that lesson to every other aspect of my life.  
      3) Next, you helped me realize how close we are to heaven.  Joshua, I could always tell that the veil between us and Heavenly Father was so thin for you.  Sometimes, you would be looking up at the plain, white ceiling and just be staring at what seemed like nothing. Then, suddenly, your face would light up as if you were ready to smile. I would get chills as the Lord testified to me that you were looking at your guardian angels.  They were giving you the strength to hang on just a little longer and I know they were there to guide you to heaven when that time came.  I like to think that all of us have a few guardian angels, especially during the hard times of our life.  If we can humble ourselves and become more like you, little Joshua, the veil can open for us and we will feel the Savior near.  

     4)  Finally, you helped me understand the Plan of Salvation.  I remember over the years before you came into my life, I questioned how strong my testimony was.  I never questioned that I knew the gospel was true, but I didn’t really know if it would stand a true test, mostly because it had never really been tested before.  Joshua, you were the test I needed to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this gospel is true.  I know that you are waiting for us on the other side of the veil.  I know that Heavenly Father welcomed you with open arms and will watch over you until we can join you.  I know that you are surrounded by family that loves you, especially your great grandparents, your cousin Tyler, and your cousin Kate. We are all more determined to live our life in such a way that we can be with you again in the Celestial Kingdom.  I promise you, Joshua, that I will do everything I can to be with you once again and I can’t wait for that blessed day! 

Joshua, I thank you for completing your mission so perfectly.  Until we meet again, I will miss those beautiful dark eyes.  I will miss kissing those chubby cheeks and the way you smelled so sweet.  I will miss snuggling you up in a blanket and helping you fall asleep when it was hard and you weren’t feeling good.  I will miss your screams when I changed your diapers, and how relieved you were when you had the clean one on.  I will miss your presence in the room as I played with your older brother.  I will miss giving you a bath, especially since that always made you feel better.  Joshua, I will miss all of you, oh so terribly.

 But, while the immediate hurt is so strong, I can’t help but think about how wonderful it will be to raise you in the millennium.  It will be a time of great joy, Joshua, when all the world will be under Christ’s reign and Satan will be bound.  We will be able to live together and I will be able to love you without any other worries.  You will be able to live out your childhood without hospitals, surgeries, medicines, or pokes…just pure happiness, like what childhood should be.  You will be able to run around with all the other kids without worry of weariness or being left out because of physical complications. Joshua, it will be such a special time and I can’t wait to have that perfect time with you and the rest of our family. 

I am reminded of what the Prophet Joseph Smith taught.  He also lost children and had a very unique perception on the subject.  He said, “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.”  I do rejoice for you, Joshua.  I am so glad you are in a place of happiness.

You took a little piece of my heart with you back to Heaven, but my testimony of the gospel will sustain me until we can meet again and my heart is made whole.  I know you will do well with whatever task Heavenly Father has in store for you now.  As your mother, I give you this advice…complete it as well and perfectly as you did your mission here on earth.  You are a powerful tool for our Heavenly Father and I can’t wait to hear about what He has you do for him on the other side of the veil. 

Good bye for now, sweet Joshua.  Thank you for letting me be your mom.  May God be with all of us left behind until that blessed day when we meet again. 

7 comments:

  1. STEPHANIE, OUR HEARTS ARE BREAKING FOR YOU AT THIS TIME, BUT WE HAVE AN ASSURITY OF THE TRUTHFULNESS OF YOUR TESTIMONY.THANK YOU FOR SHARING SUCH SWEET AND TENDER FEELINGS WITH US. OUR LOVE GOES TO YOU AND TIM AND THE REST OF YOUR GREAT FAMILY.LOVE- THE PETTYS, TOM AND PATTY

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  2. Joshua did radiate the Holy Spirit. I have relived the short moment I was with him in my mind over and over because of the feelings I felt in his presence. I am sure he is radiating that same spirit as he continues the Lord's work on the other side. Seeing you say goodbye breaks my heart. I am so happy for the precious 2 months you got to spend with Joshua. Thanks for sharing the journey so that we can feel the spirit of it all and learn eternal truths. Love, Amber

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  3. This was so touching, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing it.

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  5. What a beautiful letter. Ben and I wish that we could of been there. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. Stephanie,
    Even though I was never able to meet little Joshua in this life, I thought I'd let you know that he's made a big impact in mine. For a while I was unsure about whether or not to go on a mission, but now I know with a surety that I'll go on one, and I know for a fact it's because of Joshua. I'm so excited for the day when you'll be able to have him in your arms again and I can finally meet him in person.
    Love, McKenzie

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  7. Hey, Stephanie! This is Laura Blodgett. I don't know if you remember me, but we met you in the CICU in mid-January. We just happened upon your blog because Devin liked it on Facebook. When I saw all that had happened to you since we parted, my heart just broke. I remembered Joshua's name because I had been praying for him and for your family. I want you to know that. I am so sorry that Joshua had to return home so soon. I was really touched by your letter; it made me cry. Thank you for sharing your faith and love.

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Joshua Kent Ipson was born December 1, 2012 with a very complicated combination of congenital heart defects. After 2 1/2 months of fighting for his life, he passed away on February 13, 2013. We invite you to share our experiences as we grieve his loss, rejoice in God's plan, & keep Joshua's message of hope alive.
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