Precious memories, how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
The police officer looked me with a straight face, "Who do you know who wants to take all your stuff?" I stared back at her. Names and faces ran through my mind, but I quickly sent them away. Who indeed? Who would take things that have great meaning for me personally? Who would want the silver rings and pins made by my grandparents? Who would gain enjoyment from wearing jewelry my mother wore? Who would want a box full of well worn and loved pocketknives belonging to Robert, set aside to give to our grandsons?
But someone did want, and so they entered my home while I was away and took them. They stole my memories. They took precious gifts from my husband, things saved for later, things beloved by my mother and grandmother. They dumped drawers on floors, emptied closet shelves and looked through boxes and cases, scattering the contents about, leaving only a portion of what was there before. Now part of me was missing. Gone.
I remember the next morning, December 23rd, weeping again, as I realized just how much my things were a part of me. As I dressed for work, the ring once belonging to my grandmother- gone. The necklace, given to me by Robert- gone. I looked around. No silent reminders of family or love or anything. It felt as if Robert had left again, I missed him. Intensely. I try not to be a 'thing' oriented person, so I was surprised by this. But his things were gone. "Robert's love is eternal," I reminded myself. I didn't feel frightened. In fact, I felt complete comfort. I felt enveloped in peace and during that day, even though the confusion of loss remained, I knew and recognized the Divine Signatures of the Lord as the day unfolded. "They are only things," I reminded myself. Although the stolen things could never be replaced, I was thankful that at least that I was ok. My family was ok. My little dog was ok. Still, I ordered an alarm system.
And then, as if taking a few things wasn't enough and before the alarm system arrived, the robbers returned a week later and took even more. I stared at the dining room floor where silver knives lay, the silverware drawer empty, handmade Irish lace linens tossed aside (at least they didn't take those!). My grandmother's silverware gone. Who does this? And I cried. Too much of me was missing now. Not just when I dressed for the day, but now the things I used and loved in daily life.
Then the next wave of unwanted feelings arrived: I trusted no one. I began to feel afraid. Everyone was suspect. "This is not me," I think as I close every blind in the house, shutting out the sunlit back yard view and the purple Ruella blossoms. As I prepared to leave for work, I did more than a routine check. Locks that weren't usually locked were checked and locked. I took special note of where and how I left things. Who will try to steal my life while I am gone? And as the fears began to race through my mind, I prayed that God would help me lose the fear.
And He did. He changed my heart. Now I felt concern. Not for me. Concern for a thief. I wondered what kind of person would have such a need that they could violate someone else's space in such a way? "They [thieves] don't think like you and me." the police officer had said. I knew that was true! (C'mon, you know I have to laugh, right?) I knew I wanted to forgive that person. What if I met them? How would I feel? What would I say? We think of people like this as poor in Spirit, as needful, and we assume they feel remorse. It's easy to forgive remorse. What if there is no remorse? What if they cruelly melted my grandmother's sterling jewelry without a thought for the care and love she poured into it? Then how would I feel? I know what I WANT to feel. I want to feel charity. I want to forgive as I have been forgiven. I don't want fear, alone-ness or mis-trust to invade my life, and for that reason, I needed to forgive.
How do I forgive someone who has taken parts of me away? It's easy to find comfort in THINGS, isn't it? I miss Robert, but I still have his wedding ring. Wait! It's gone! What will remind me now? Again, the distinct Divine Signatures of the Lord arrived. As I juggled demands of work, holidays, insurance adjusters, and life in general, things slipped into place in amazing ways. There were moments that worked out miraculously and as they did, I felt the impression from the Spirit, "I am aware of you! I know what your TRUE needs are, and I will give them to you as you need them! You need only to remember Me!"
"Always remember Him" is the sacred promise I renew each week. When I do that, I feel charity toward those who have stolen from me. When I remember Him, no one can take His love away. No one can take Robert's love away. I need not fear, for I am always in His care. No one will steal my peace or my joy, for they are given by One who knows and loves all. And that's enough.
" Fear not, little children, for you are mine,
and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;
And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost....
Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel.
He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall.
And the day cometh that you shall hear my voice and see me, and know that I am.
Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready."
(Doctrine and Covenants 50: 41-46)