I want to begin by publicly thanking Kristi for helping me almost realize one of my dreams. I have a really weird talent for knowing song lyrics. I always wanted to be on that show Don't Forget the Lyrics. So when their audition tour came to Vegas, she made me go. We drove to this seedy hotel downtown and Kristi signed me up. But then we were told I had to PERFORM a song on a stage in front of producers and people and I wanted to leave. I know lyrics but I am NOT a performer. Kristi made me stay and auditioned too so I wouldn't be alone. While we stood in line, we called my dad and asked for advice on which songs to sing. She decided on Billy Joel's Allentown and I chose Cheeseburger in Paradise. She went first and worked the crowd. Sang so loud, danced on the stage. Not because she wanted to get on the show but because she wanted me to follow her lead. So I did. I went nuts. And because of her mentoring and faith in me, I made it into the semi finals.............of tryouts. My favorite part of that day was just sitting on the floor, waiting our turns, and laughing with each other. So thank you Kristi. We almost did it.
A week before she died, we came into town and took Kristi through the Provo temple openhouse. As most of you probably know, it nearly burned down six years ago and many were afraid it was lost forever.
Instead, this burnt tabernacle was restored. They took six years to beautify and rebuild it. This weekend it will be dedicated as a temple. What felt like a tragedy and a loss has actually become something even more beautiful and sacred.
Kristi held Ruby on her lap during the introduction video. Then she walked with us through the beautiful rooms and we talked about how beautiful every single detail was. We even took pictures afterwards.
That weekend we had long talks about her life. She was discouraged. She felt very alone. While I didn't know the extent of her pain or problems, I knew she needed hope. Desperately. I also realized that I needed hope for her too.
I told her during one of our talks that she was just like this tabernacle. She laughed but I told her she had been hurt and burned and damaged but could be rebuilt. I told her she could be restored. I told her that these decisions didn't define her. She had tears rolling down her face as we talked.
So we made a plan. We made a list. I gave her a two week set of daily goals. I told her I wanted a text each night letting me know what she had accomplished. The list was simple. Take a shower. One hour walking in the sunshine each day. Do something for Mom. Make your bed. Kneel before bed and pray. She tearfully agreed to everything on the list. I wondered whether or not she would follow through.
The next day she texted me. She had accomplished her daily goals. In fact, she texted me every night her last week. Her texts always listed her accomplishments that day including praying on her knees before bed.
She told me that for the first time in a long time, she had hope.
Elder Jeffrey R Holland said,
"Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.” 2 For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.”
Kristi was taking action. She was trying the best that she could to rise from her ashes. She felt loved and supported. She had hope of good things to come.
The fact that Kristi died before she could accomplish these goals does not mean she is done. I see this death as a new beginning for Kristi. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said,
"We are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless13 and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny."
Kristi left this world with hope for a better future. She will carry that hope with her into heaven. Her hope was made up of a family who loved her, friends who never gave up on her, and I believe, a knowledge that God lives and Jesus is indeed the Christ.
If you know someone who needs hope, please leave this funeral today and help them. Please pick up your phone and call them. Please get into your car and visit them. If you feel hopeless, please remember Kristi and start small. Take a shower. Take a walk. Make your bed. Kneel down and pray. Ask God for help. He knows your name. He loves every single one of us. As Elder Holland said in that same conference talk,
"Don’t give up. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”
I am heartbroken but I have hope.
Kristi, my Sissy, I will miss your beautiful face. I will miss our talks. I will miss how much you loved our kids. I will miss all your basketball games we watched while Tod yelled, "Put Em in a body bag, Provo!" I will miss making you no baked while you lay on the couch. I will miss hiking the Y with you and laughing with you and every, every, everything with you.
You were beautiful here on earth but now you have the opportunity to transform into a sacred and holy temple yourself and become more than you ever thought possible. Rise from your ashes, Sissy. And give Dad a hug from me.
I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in God. I have read and believe in the Book of Mormon that teaches about love, repentance, forgiveness, redemption and most of all, hope.