Katie’s Journal Entry on Sunday June 21, 2015

Sunday June 21, 2015
Mom and I are currently on our flight back home to Utah. We have spent the past seven days in North Carolina with the Walker family. It has been an emotional and eventful week, and we are ready to be home again. I’ll start from the beginning and try to remember as many details as I can.
Sunday June 14, 2015
Ashton and I woke up late on a lazy Sunday morning. We were sunburned as could be from a Saturday at the lake. Life was normal. As we laid in bed chatting I told Ashton about a strange dream I had had that night. I remembered it very clearly that morning. I was in the airport with Mom and we were hurrying to get a flight to North Carolina. It was the same timing— June of this year, and the whole family was still going to North Carolina in August as planned. I was aware of that in the dream. But I was going to North Carolina to visit the family that day. There was a sense of urgency at the airport as we tried to arrange flights. I needed to get to NC soon. In the dream I thought it was just for a visit. I woke up before actually arriving in NC. When I woke up I thought it was very odd that I would go to NC in June if we were all going in August. I also thought it was odd that it was just me going. I brushed it off for a bit. Then we saw the text from Mom. “Grandma Walker collapsed at church. On the way to the hospital by ambulance. Say a prayer. Won’t know anything more for an hour or so probably.” We were all a bit surprised to hear that as Grandma was the seemingly healthy one. For a few years now Grandpa’s health has been declining and we have all prepared ourself for the call about Grandpa, but we were not at all prepared for a call about Grandma. Because of this, we all thought it was probably something minor and we did not worry too much. We all said our own prayers for her, but went about our morning without too much thought and assuming all would be fine with Grandma. About an hour and a half later, we got the next message from mom. “Looks like Dad may need gallbladder surgery. Not serious. But my mom is dying and Max and I need to catch a red eye tonight. Aneurysm stroke putting her on life support now. Blood on her brain. Anyway. Timing is crazy.” Wow. That stopped us all in our tracks and quickly filled us with serious concern and worry. Ashton and I hurried and got ready and started driving over to the ER. “I think I’m going to go with Mom to North Carolina if she’ll let me. I feel like I need to be there. I want to go.” Before too long we were all at the Lone Peak Hospital to see Dad. Mom was holding back tears. We did not see it coming at all. We took turns going back into the ER room where Dad was, and then would sit in the waiting room and discuss everything going on. Joe was quickly on the phone arranging flights. I asked Mom if I could go with her. She was hesitant at first due to the cost of flights. I offered to pay my own way and insisted I wanted to be there. Dad agreed. He wanted someone there to help take care of Mom since he couldn’t go himself. It all happened in a blur. The flights were booked. Dad went in for surgery. We ran home to pack while he was in surgery, then hurried back and saw him as he came out of surgery. We visited briefly, said our tearful goodbyes and were back home packing and off to sleep. Nap, really, as we only had a few hours before our flight. I struggled that night and broke down in Ashton’s arms. “It’s too soon. We were prepared for Grandpa to go, but not Grandma.” He gave me a blessing that gave me great comfort. In it he assured me that I needed to go to North Carolina to serve Mom especially but also to be there for Grandpa and the other family. He said Heavenly Father had prepared me for this and that He would give me the strength necessary to serve as He needed throughout the week. We slept for a few hours and then I was up again getting ready to leave for the airport. It was just after 3:00am. There were so many thoughts going through me head. At that point, we were fairly certain Grandma wasn’t going to make it. We just didn’t know how much time she had. I remember thinking in my head that we were going to get there and go straight to the hospital to see her. I thought about what it would be like to see her, and if we would have a lot of time with her. Just as all these thoughts were going through my head, my phone went off and I opened a message from Mom. “Grandma just died.” My heart stopped for a moment and my head was racing, but I didn’t have time to stop and process. None of it seemed real yet. We went to pick up Mom. She was surprisingly calm. She explained in the car ride her experience the night before and how that had given her some closure and was helping her to feel calm and comforted. I was grateful for that. We picked up Max and were on our way. All three of us were very calm.
Monday, June 15, 2015
We arrived at the airport around 2:00pm. We rented a car, went to pick up Holly from the detox center, and drove straight to Grandpas. Most of the family was there when we got there. There were tears in everyone’s eyes as we hugged each one. It was very somber and quiet. Grandpa sat in his chair most of the time. He mostly just stared in front of himself. He didn’t participate in conversation too much. From time to time, his lip would start to quiver and his eyes would fill with tears and he his shoulders would shake for a moment as he thought of his dear Beth. It never lasted long, just a moment or two. He was very quiet, and would quickly make it pass. It broke our hearts to see him cry. He seemed so lonely and lost without her. Though the house was full of people, there was a clear absence of Grandma’s presence and laughter. There was so much food being brought from ward members and friends. I’d never seen so much fried chicken in my life! That seems to be what they bring in the south. Lots of fried chicken and biscuits. 🙂 We were grateful for all the support and help. After we had all been there for a few hours, we were sitting in the living room when Grandpa began to talk to us. Mom described the beginning well. Here’s her excerpt of this moment.
—Daddy had a tender moment when he retraced the whole day on Sunday from the time she collapsed at Church until the time that she died.  After Mama finished playing the closing song at the end of Sacrament meeting, she was standing and talking with a few women as she always does right after, and before they go to SS class.  They were standing in a circle visiting.  Mama stopped, put her fingers on her temples and looked down, and swayed a little.  Her friend asked her if she was okay.  She said, “…I don’t think so…” and then slumped forward and started to fall. This friend caught her, and two deacons rushed over to help lay her on the floor.  Daddy had already gone into SS class where he was going to teach.  Someone ran to get him.  He hurried to her side, knelt down beside her and started talking to her.  He noticed that her eyes were already glazed over, and he knew she was not likely to come out of it.  He told her not to leave him before she was rushed off in the ambulance.  He described her slow demise as, over the next about twelve hours, her body slowly shut down until she was no longer breathing on her own, and the ventilator was breathing for her.  He and Tammy stayed with her body for a few hours after she passed, as Daddy wanted to do.  They pronounced her dead at 2:53am on June 15, 2015.  But Daddy felt like her spirit had left her body around 1:00am.—
Grandpa had a hard time getting through telling us all of this. He tried so hard to keep his tears away. So did we. After telling us how it all happened, Grandpa began to teach his posterity. It felt much like when Lehi had gathered his family around and was sharing his testimony and his desires for his children and grandchildren. Grandpa told us that we didn’t need to worry about Grandma. She was in a better place. He said this is what the Lord wanted. Grandpa shared with us something that I never knew.  He told us that over the years he had prayed several times to let Beth go before him so he could take care of her. He said her mom died when she was four and she was left alone then and he didn’t want to leave her alone. When he was diagnosed with his heart condition they weren’t sure if that was going to be possible, but in the end he said he was grateful the Lord answered his prayers. It is what he had always wanted, even though he knew it would be hard to lose her. After that he said something we needed to know is that Grandma had, what we call, “made her calling and election made sure”. Grandpa began to testify to us in that quiet powerful way of his. He is also masterful at teaching and testifying to a diverse audience. Within his posterity that was sitting in that room, he had a few active members of the church, a handful of non-members who have hardly ever gone to church, and several inactive members who hadn’t gone to church in years. He explained everything very clearly so everyone could understand. He assured us that Grandma had been a very righteous woman here on the earth. She had served faithfully and always done what the Lord wanted her to do. Because of that, she had her calling and election made sure. This meant, he went on, that she was in a place called the Spirit World where she is teaching other people about the gospel. There she is happy, safe, and at peace. He smiled a bit and said, “Now if I can just do enough to meet her there!” Then he quietly said, “But I’m fairly certain I have done enough, and that I’ll be there with her soon enough.” It was a really beautiful moment to hear him say that. It reminded me of the scriptures when the prophets are closing their last chapter and they testify with a surety that they are going to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. They just have that calm assurance that they have done all the Lord asked of them and that they would soon meet their Savior. Grandpa had that same quiet assurance and peace. He knew that before long he would be there right alongside his beautiful companion Beth, teaching and serving in the Spirit World.  He also said his greatest desire is to make it to the Celestial kingdom with his sweet Beth but not only her, his greatest hope is to have all his children and grandchildren there with him. Again, recognizing his audience, he said he understood that each one has their agency and that he respected the will of others to choose as they wish. “But”, he said, “the Lord has outlined the path we need to follow in order to return to him and be together as a family, and my deepest desire that each of you can make the choices necessary to be there with Beth and I.” He testified of a few more things and then quietly went back into his thoughts. It was a very tender and spiritual moment. The Spirit filled the room.
It was quiet the rest of the evening. At one point, Grandpa picked up his guitar and tried to play a song. He only made it through a verse or so before he broke down and had to put the guitar back. Through his tears and cracking voice he said, “Not yet. Maybe tomorrow.” He was very tired. We eventually all left and Mom and I went back to April’s to sleep.
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