I should have posted this yesterday, but I didn't have the time, nor did I want to go through the emotional mess that I've been since Friday. sigh. But, I felt that I needed to share my impressions with you all, and since no one can see or hear me while I type this or as you read it, things won't be so bad. No one will see my face get wet or my throat get raw. And...before I forget, all the photos are from KSL's site.
My family and I went to the viewing on Friday. I wanted to go, but my husband suggested it and I was sooo glad. I felt pulled, drawn to the conference center. I had to say good bye to the man who had been such a large part of my life. When asked by a co-worker why people even went to these things, I struggled to come up with an answer, but the basic idea is -- so that I can say goodbye. Afterward, on Sunday, I chatted briefly with another ward member that I'd seen leaving while we were getting there. She said they were very glad they had gone. Her comment was that it brings closure to see the body there. You know that person is really gone. That's how I feel. Funerals are a difficult thing, but I feel they are necessary for us weak enough to need to have that final moment on this earth.
Anyway...we got into Salt Lake and to the center at about 4 pm. The line was already starting to snake around the building, and we ended up about halfway up the street on the north side. It moved relatively quickly and by the time my hubby and the rest of the kids joined us, we were halfway up the West Temple side. It was one of those times I'd wished I'd had a camera phone, so that I could share the view of all those people lined up to the top of main street...
It was cold, but while the sun was shining, it was glorious. I'd brought a book and read for most the time while we were waiting for the rest to join us. I'd had the kids wear warm coats and they were supposed to bring gloves, but can anyone find the new ones they got for Christmas? Not a glove in sight...sigh. It amazed me to see people in shirts and short sleeves...they had to be freezing. By the time we got closer to the doors, my back was killing me. It doesn't like standing for several hours, and we'd been there for two by this time.
I sent my son on ahead to see how much farther we had to go, and he said we just had to get up the stairs on the front of the building and in the doors. That said, let me add that it took over an hour to do that. It was after 7 by the time we got in the doors, and we heard one of the ushers tell people that there would be an additional wait of three hours once they got inside. Several left the line ahead of us at this point. I was tempted.
We finally got inside, which was wonderful. I had been telling my hubby we should go, but he wanted to stay. This was important to him as well. I'm very glad we did. After we finally got through the metal detectors, I found a chair and sat down during the time he and the kids moved past me three times. I caught up with them just as they were having us go into the center itself.
What they were doing to get people out of the cold, was filling the sections of the conference center before filing them past the coffin. They would fill so many sections, the wait till there was some room -- have people go out and see the prophet (there was a steady stream, believe me) and then they would let more people in. We were in on the mezzanine level and about six sections over from the left side. The bottom area had about three sections filled. They emptied those ones before they started on our level. It took about a half hour per section.
The best part of this was the fact they were showing the show of President Hinkley's 95th bday party. That was so very special -- we hadn't seen it. It was so hard though, because there he was, large as life, but yet we were there because he had died. The workers were placing the flowers and arranging the greenery that was seen in the funeral, that was something fun to watch too, all the special arrangements that had been sent.
It came our time, and we filed out and my husband was sure to thank all the volunteers we passed, letting them know how much we appreciated their being willing to spend their time in this way so that we could be there. Many of them thanked us for coming. One gentleman said that President Hinkley would have wanted this -- he loved all of us so much. It made me start crying again.
The route to the viewing itself was through parts of the center that we hadn't seen before. There was a room with all the paintings from the Book of Mormon, they were huge and breathtaking. There was a gorgeous chandelier type fixture that hung from the ceiling to the floor down below us. There were various paintings of the Savior and parables. We were walking far too quickly for real enjoyment, but it was wonderful to see everything.
The Hall of the Prophets was awesome. There is just no other word to describe it. They had the line split at this point so that both sides could see the prophet. They asked us to keep moving so that everyone could see him. It was hard not to be able to touch him as he lay there, so very peaceful in his temple clothing.
And then we were out, moving past a couple of family portraits and going back down the escalators.
By the time we got to our cars, it was past 9 pm. We had been there for 5 hours, but when it was all over, it had been so worth it. I would do it again. Of course, I would remember hand warmers and blankets and a small folding stool...grin.
Saturday morning we watched the funeral, as I'm sure most of you did. It was so touching to watch the apostles line the path, and as he went out, one of them touched the casket in farewell. Seeing the grief on Elder Monson's face was almost too hard to bear.
It was something that I heard in his voice again Yesterday when they prepared to announce who the first presidency was going to be. He spoke of knowing President Hinkley for over 40 years, and how he had been so close to him. I wanted to reach out and give him a hug, but I'm sure the Lord was there.
I know that things are continually moving on, time waits for no man. But sometimes change is a painful thing, and I wish that things could just stay the same for a while. I know it will never happen, change is growth and improvement, however much pain it brings.
But, there is also Joy. Joy in spending time with my family, joy in seeing my boys behave themselves better than most of the kids around us, joy in being with my husband and knowing we have been sealed for eternity -- joy in the wonderful day Saturday had been.
I'll never forget President Hinkley's talk in conference a while ago (I'm sorry I can't tell you which one) where he compared life to a train ride. Sometimes there are glorious vistas and brief moments of amazing sights. Most of the time we have to find happiness in the humdrum and monotonous events of our lives, and that is what I try to do.
My life is not humdrum -- I never find it boring. And because of him, it has been enriched.
Thank you, President. And thanks to you all who read my efforts and add to my days.