I have a cousin named Heather. She was born with Downs Syndrome and other severe complications. She has been a medical miracle as she has beat the odds time and time again.
She even walked, which doctors didn't thought would ever happen.
She was able to walk across a stage and plug in the lights for the festival of trees.
Heather has always had a very special spirit with her, and it radiates into and through whatever place she is in.
She has been a huge example to me, and has set the bar pretty high for all of us.
I have been very privileged to know her for her entire life, and spend many, many special moments with her.
She is a highlight of our yearly family reunions and any family gathering, and she has numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, and friends, that love her fiercely and adore her.
Heather passed away yesterday. She was 14 miraculous years old.
Of course, I was heartbroken to hear the news, and have shed many tears. I can't stop thinking about my aunt, uncle, and her 2 brothers, who have just had their sweet angel taken from them, for the rest of their time here on Earth.
However, I also can't stop thinking about sweet Heather, dancing, laughing, talking, and completely whole in heaven, surrounded by those who love her.
She will be so greatly missed by all of us that love her, and there will be a big hole at our family gatherings, but there is also a strength in my family, and a knowledge of the Gospel that we all share, that we will see her again, she is a perfect being, and that families are eternal.
We will be attending her funeral here in Utah, and I find it interesting that I actually look forward to it. I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to Heather and feeling the heartache that her family is suffering through, as well as heartache of my own.
I look forward to the amazing strength the Belnap family has whenever we get together, no matter the circumstances. I come from a very strong, valiant, and Gospel oriented family. A family full of faith, unconditional love and support for everyone, no matter the situation.
Sometimes, when hard things happen, it is so wonderful and healing to be surrounded by that strength, love and unity. I look forward to feeling that, and to be able to mourn with those that mourn, but also rejoice in our eternal family. It will not be a forever goodbye to Heather, but it will still be a hard one.
Death does not do us part, and even though death is hard, sad, and at times excruciating for those who lose loved ones, it is only a temporary separation. I am so, so grateful for the peace that knowledge brings.