Local Story: MeiLani Hock | May 20, 2016
MeiLani first shared this story live on the TOFW stage as the local presenter in Raleigh, NC as part of the 2016 One Heart One, Faith Tour.
I was pregnant with our fourth child when something strange started to happen with our family at bedtime. Every night I would carefully tuck in each of our kids. First our oldest son, then our princess, and finally our big, cheeky 18 month-old linebacker, AJ. The routine was predictable, but I found myself doing the oddest thing--as I lay AJ down to sleep, I would inexplicably say out loud, “Please let me have one more day with you.” WHAT A WEIRD THING for a mom to say to her toddler?!? Morbid, right? Not exactly the sleep tight lullaby you read in books.
The first few times, it caught me off guard, “Why would I say such a thing? Did I mean to say that?” I finally shared my odd behavior with my husband who of course confirmed that it was weird and it was morbid, so I should stop. Just a few days later, he came in after kissing the kids goodnight and said, “Well that was weird. I said the same thing to AJ tonight”. This went on for months, each of us taking turns sporadically pleading with our toddler and with the Lord to let us have just one more day with him.
Time passed and we welcomed baby number four and enjoyed time as a family of six. Within two months of us welcoming our new baby, we noticed signs that AJ was sick. At first we thought it was just the flu, but then those strange instincts that we had been feeling the previous few months were brought to the front of our minds and would not leave. Doctors were rejecting our demands for tests, but we knew that something was wrong with our son.
A Mother’s Intuition
After weeks of trying to convince doctors to let us have an MRI done, we finally won and the test was completed. I will never forget the moment I picked up the phone and heard the doctor say, “Mrs. Hock, sometimes a mother’s intuition is better than any medical degree. Your son has a large mass in his brain that we would like to remove as soon as possible”.
My heart sank but was quickly buoyed up by an understanding that this was exactly what the Lord had been preparing us for over the last few months. Even with that understanding, I remember that first night after learning about AJ’s tumor as the hardest night in my life. I lay in a hospital bed holding my baby boy, listening to his deep breathing and heard my eternal sweetheart husband Michael sniffle his tears away. I finally crawled out of AJ’s hospital bed and over to the chair where Michael was pretending to sleep. He began to sob, “I know the Lord has a plan for AJ… but I’m not ready for him to go! I really, really want to have more time as his earthly father! There is so much more we have to do together.”
As we tried to make sense of our changing world, we were rushed into brain surgery the next day. It happened to be AJ’s second birthday, so we like to say that he got the best birthday present ever—a clean brain! Michael seemed very calm and at peace. He explained that he had had a clear impression that everything was going to be okay. This was confusing to me since I was usually the one who received the peace first. Yet it didn’t come for me that night or for a long time after that.
We Just Had to Wait
Brain surgery was only the beginning. During AJ’s seven weeks of radiation treatments, I became very good at watching strangers roll my baby on a gurney off into some hospital room that I was not allowed into. Each time I felt helpless, but not at all hopeless. I sometimes hear of people in difficult situations feeling alone. I never felt that way. I always knew and felt my Savior near me even if I didn’t feel complete peace. He was like a good friend and colleague. I felt like we were working together toward a common goal.
Months later, I lay sobbing in a ball on the floor holding my sleeping baby boy. We had done every single treatment, traveled thousands of miles to specialists, prayed till our knees ached and cried till our eyes burned. We had done everything, absolutely everything that we could, yet I still did not feel at peace because I knew that my little bundle of joy could be taken at any moment. We just had to wait… and wait… and wait to see if the cancer returned. If it did return, options for treatment were limited because further radiation and chemo would do little help and a lot of damage.
They would test AJ the next day to determine if the treatments had worked. I couldn’t think of anything but the possibility of losing my son. I needed to find solace. I needed to feel comfort. I needed to be at peace. So I hopped in my car and drove to the temple.
From the moment I arrived to the moment I left the temple, cute little gray-haired ladies kept offering me tissues. I felt out of control. Despite my husband’s calm, I felt with a surety that tomorrow held bad news and there was nothing I could do to stop it. In desperation, I said a silent prayer. I pled with my Father in Heaven to help me feel comfort and find peace.
Then, right at that moment everything in my mind went quiet. The chaos in my head subsided as I clearly heard the reminder that the Lord has blessed us with everything in our lives… EVERYTHING, including those special chubby-cheeked linebacker sized babies! All that he asks in return is that we be willing to sacrifice whatever he may ask of us. Are we willing to sacrifice to follow His will for us?
Becoming One with Him
My tears halted as my mind started racing with scripture references. The rich young ruler. Job. Then Abraham and Isaac. My heart warmed as I felt a kindred spirit to Abraham. What did each of these men share in common with me? The Lord did not ask the young ruler to give up his riches because the Lord needed money. He did not give Job trials because he thought he would look good in boils. He did not ask Abraham to sacrifice his son because Isaac's journey on earth was complete. He asked each of these men to do these things as a symbol of their faith in Him. To truly test if they would put their complete trust in the Lord, turning everything over to Him… becoming One with Him.
That was it. There it was. Each of these scriptural heroes were not working with the Lord as a colleague and friend toward a shared goal, but were asked to align their goals with the Lord’s. To put their goals and desires aside and completely trust in the Lord and follow what He had planned. To truly become One with Him.
There, silently in the temple, I felt as if the Savior was sitting right beside me. Not as a friend and colleague, but as a much wiser and older brother who knows much more than I. He was offering to help me through this. He was not going to force me to believe and become One with His plan, but instead he was offering it to me. Offering me the choice to join in his embrace and completely turn my life over to him, including whatever obstacles I might face … or I could try to do it on my own.
I pled with the Lord. I was no longer begging for my son’s life, but instead pleading for faith and strength to handle whatever it was He needed of me—even if that meant losing my son earlier than I would have hoped.
It has been over a year since that day in the temple and AJ is still with us, getting stronger and smarter every day. We continue to be grateful for every day we get with him and pray that his cancer will not return. But now, as I go in for his check ups, I am not paralyzed with fear but empowered with faith in the Lord. I remember that the Lord is more than just a friend and colleague working towards a common goal with me. He is my elder brother and Savior who invites me into his loving arms to completely turn over my worries to Him and Become One with Him as I face the challenges of life according to His will, not mine.