Lynda Young Tuckett

Joe has been determined to have his faith never waiver. At a joint Family Home Evening a month ago, he told a story about a woman with cancer repeating everyday, many times a day, “Thank you for my healing.” He added, “As a man thinketh, so is he.”

His wife, Lynda, sentenced to death by cancer, sat smiling in a hard-back chair. She joked some, and their children discussed what the scripture meant.

Two weeks ago, my husband (Lynda’s brother) called her to see how things were going. She had just undergone some tests. The liver test held the most ominous possibilities. Lynda’s voice didn’t break until she talked about that one. “I’m really afraid of those results,” she said.

We had a mini family reunion a week ago at the Golden Corral, that homey palace of gluttony. Lynda’s saliva glands had been ruined by her medication, so she ate very little. She looked frail, and one eye drooped.

We talked about everything except cancer. Did you try the shrimp cocktail? Really good. Man, they give you a lot of food in this place. How’s school? Are you about ready for summer vacation?

We gave mini hugs at the end, and I started crying as we left the restaurant. “She looks so bad,” I said.

Lynda, the fun-loving sprite who bought huge, Halloween ears to her son’s baptism to remind him to “Listen to the spirit!” went seven years cancer free, and then met it again. It invaded her marrow.

The tests came back a few days ago. Yes, the cancer had hit her liver. And her lungs and her optic nerve.

As Elder Bednar spoke yesterday about faith and healing, I found myself saying aloud during his first story of a mother and her suddenly-ill son, “Please don’t tell us about a miraculous healing right now!” The story did indeed end with a healing, but then he moved on to another story, which began similarly and did NOT end with a healing, but with death. Elder Bednar suggested that we pray for understanding as we face our afflictions.

After conference, we went to visit Joe and Lynda, with Bruce’s parents. Lynda’s decline was starkly apparent. She couldn’t say much. She wasn’t wearing her wig, her skin was sallow, and she didn’t have any strength to smile. Again, we talked about everything but cancer. Elder Christofferson seems like a good man, doesn’t he. How’s your single’s ward, Stephen? We went to Bombay House for dinner after the Priesthood Session.

I did ask Joe if Lynda was able to sleep. He said she wasn’t. She kept waking up to vomit, but only blood came up. Her rest was always fitful. He turned to Bruce. “I have to do some things now which I don’t want to do. Pick out a coffin.”

At the end of the visit, my mother-in-law approached her daughter. “I didn’t give you a hug last time,” my mother-in-law said. “I don’t know why I didn’t. I was just lazy. Too comfortable in my chair.” She stroked Lynda’s hands, and embraced her. Lynda was too weak to return the embrace.

A few minutes ago, my husband called to tell me Lynda had died. I knew as soon as I saw his name identified on the phone what he was calling to tell me. I said hello and simply waited for the words to come. It took him a moment.

What, then, are we to understand? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Death unites us in common grief. We are more able to forgive as we realize how fragile life is. Why would we hold on to resentments? Why give or take offense?

2. Time runs out for all of us. There is a time to embrace and a time when an embrace is impossible. Embrace.

3. Faith must bridge the gulf between this life and the next. Will we always be aware of the emptiness someone’s absence has left? I think so, though it does get better.

Lynda Young Tuckett was a lover of life. She had the gift of joy. When I told her once that I was amazed by her ability to deal with the cruelty of cancer, she said simply and with a shrug, “Well, what are you going to do?”

She fell in love young and married young—but married well. I will never fault her husband for urging her to believe in healing. He clearly adored her.

What will this day be for her children? This day marks a transition in their faith and their lives. From now on, April 7th will always be the day their mother died. I hope they take time to look at earlier photos of her, and to remember her smile. I have always believed that when a young mother is taken, she is also given privileges to affect her children’s lives. I hope that is true. (Her children are ages 27, 21, and 16.)

Today, April 7th, 2008, Lynda Young Tuckett died at age 45. I close this with part of a poem by Phillip White, whose wife (another dear friend) died young.

“And as the earth fell, my heart finally failed

And I cast my eye around wildly, wanting to take

Each thing in, not knowing what part would be lost

That I might struggle into this life again.”

Comments

  1. Margaret, what a beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.

    We’re celebrating a birthday today. Thank you for the reminder of how precious it is.

  2. Thanks, Margaret. Doing so much research on healing and death in Mormonism, I still witness such moments freshly. This is beautiful.

  3. Thanks, Margaret – for these beautiful words and for your kindness to me in such a time of sorrow. Our prayers are with you and your husband and your families.

  4. That is a beautiful excerpt. Although faith can help to bridge the gap, I think we will always feel loss. Perhaps not the gone forever type of loss but more like the loss you feel when someone goes away on a very long trip.

  5. Since I’m going to print this out as my journal, I wanted to mention a couple of things my sister, a hospice nurse, told me yesterday.
    She said she has never had a patient who wasn’t ready to die when the time came. The body DOES fight, and Lynda’s restless sleep is called “terminal agitation”–a state where the body resists dying. Yet when the time comes, there is peace. The hard part is for the family to let go, and some people prolong dying because the family won’t release them. Thus, with new meaning I will hear the words, “We release you with a vote of thanks.”

  6. Thanks for this sweet reminder of the complexities of discovering (such an odd but apt word here) the will and kindness of God in the ebbs and flows of our strangely and sometimes cruelly brief lives. You should have J. Stapley describe for you some of the rites that our LDS ancestors had for the deathbed in the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

  7. I would love to hear about Jonathan’s research.
    This is the second sister Bruce has lost. The first, Nancy, died at age 46 of M.S. I have mused over the possibility that Nancy was there to greet Lynda and ease her into the transition. I believe we rehearse our fully escorted deaths in the temple. I think there is to be no fear involved, and so a familiar face must be waiting. When my best friend died in a car accident, her brother had what he considered a vision of their father introducing Buffy into the next world.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Margaret, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  9. “We release you with a vote of thanks.”

    That is beautiful and profound, Margaret. I have never thought of that phrase in that context. Thank you.

  10. Margaret, I am so sorry for your loss. I’m also grateful that someone who feels so beautifully can write so beautifully.

    Your sister’s observations as a hospice nurse ring very true. Hospice nurses and palliative care physicians are angels. A corollary to your sister’s observation occurred to me when my father died. We had certainly all released him and his pastor had urged him to lead the way that we would all be pleased to follow in due time. But he hung on for 3 extra days with a pulse of 30 dropping to 10 (!) for the last day. I had left my mother in my sister’s care for those 3 days. Dad died peacefully as I reentered the room. My sister is not physically strong and the hospice staff believed he held on just to be sure Mom had all the help she might need as he died. We must facilitate the release of the dying not only with our permission but also our preparations to ease their concerns for those they leave behind.

  11. Russ Frandsen says:

    Margaret,

    Having experienced the death of children first hand, and the debilitating illness of a child first hand, I felt like asking Elder Bednar during his talk, “Please tell me about your own personal experience within your own immediately family with death and disability.” Despite the pain of my question for him, I do know the sweet comfort inherent in understanding the plan of salvation. I still delight in hearing stories of faith and healing, even while feeling the pain of the futility of faith and prayer. I understand why God will not grant every prayer for healing, even while I pray daily for the invocation of his power. I inscribe a name on the temple prayer roll, even while receiving weekly or daily reports detailing yet further deterioration. Life is both wonderfully beautiful and distressingly bitter.

  12. Norbert says:

    Embrace.

    Yeah. Thanks for posting this.

  13. Godspeed, Lynda. Welcome home.

  14. Margaret, we have a special legacy as Mormons. As a Brother Hatch lay dying on the ship the Timoleon en route to the South Pacific, Addison Pratt counseled with him, showing him a sketch of his brother so that Hatch would recognize and be able to greet him on the other side. However horribly painful the long absences are, we LDS have a long history of the proximity of those who have gone before. I still sometimes imagine to myself Pratt giving those messages to Hatch to carry onward.

  15. Mark IV says:

    Margaret,

    Thank you.

    Remember when Arthur Henry King bore his testimony of death? He said it can be a blessing to those who remain in life, because it reminds us how much we love those who are gone.

  16. CS Eric says:

    Last summer, my wife “coded” in the ambulance from our home to the hospital. They worked on her for about an hour in the ER before she finally came back. When they finally let me in her room, all I could think of was that she looked just like my dad did on his deathbed, with tubes all around and breathing only because of the ventilator. I am embarrased to think that there are times when I forget how close I was to losing her, and don’t always treat her with the tenderness I felt that night.

    This story reminded me of that night, and I couldn’t help but cry. Thank you for this reminder of how thin the line between life and death sometimes is.

  17. Margaret,

    Your beautiful tribute to your sister-in-law touched me, and reminded me of those close to me who have been released “with a vote of thanks”. We lost my wife’s youngest sister’s husband at an age too young to cancer a few years back, and I thought of those last few weeks as I read this. I’m grateful for a sure knowledge of the afterlife, and have often considered the joyous reunions that take place there. Your family is in our prayers.

  18. So sad. I’m so sorry, Margaret. Your question, “will we always be aware of the emptiness…?” is a profound one. In my case, the answer is “yes, always.”

  19. Antonio Parr says:

    Deepest condolences. I have lost a sibling to cancer, and know all too well your experience and grief. I extend a sad welcome to the fellowship.

    There are no simple answers. However, I believe with all of my heart in the most profound of all of the words in the Doctrine and Covenants, given to Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail:

    My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment . . .

    …know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all; art thou greater than he?(D&C 121:7;122:7)

    Suffering and pain offer the potential of increased fellowship with the Man of Sorrows, who not only knows all of our suffering, both physical and emotional, but know, as well, the silence of God that sometimes accompanies our darkest moments.

    The Silence of God (Andrew Peterson)

    It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith
    It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane
    When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
    And the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

    It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
    When he has to remember what broke him apart
    This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
    When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

    And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
    Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
    When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
    Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
    ‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…

    There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
    In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
    And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
    All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

    And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
    What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
    So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
    The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
    The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
    In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

  20. Chad Too says:

    A beautiful tribute, Margaret.

    It’s so easy to forget in the midst of the humdrum daily grind that every day we have together is a gift.

    April 7th may have been Lynda’s last day on earth, but it was her first day with her Savior in Paradise. The miracle of eternal life.

    Chad

  21. Thank you so much for this. And thanks to all for the comments. On Thursday I am speaking at the funeral of the 94 yr. old patriarch of a wonderful family. During the last six months of his life, Frank so wanted to “go home” but could not. He suffered immensely. He has finally been released. You all have written my funeral talk for me, thank you again.

  22. I love the poem, Antonio.
    Bruce and I shared some memories of Lynda last night. We recalled a Thanksgiving where all of the Youngs played something like Trivial Pursuit, and Bruce knew everything (of course). He teased Lynda, and she broke down, saying, “I know I’m not smart like you.”

    Yes, Bruce and I are both smart. (So what?) We have a facility for words which we have often used well and sometimes used very badly. We are capable of insulting each other through literary analogy. (I recall accusing him of being like Uriah Heep early in our marriage, which cut him deeply. “Uriah Heep is despicable!” he said.)

    I love Mary Robison’s story “Yours” which depicts a woman dying of cancer, and her contemplative, much older husband. Robison’s narrator says, “He wanted to tell her, from the greater perspective he had, that to own only a little talent, like his, was an awful, plaguing thing; that being only a little special meant you expected too much, most of the time, and liked yourself too little. He wanted to assure her that she had missed nothing.”

    If I could return to that Thanksgiving, I would tell Lynda to not envy Bruce his remarkable mind. His greatest joys have been the same ones she has known–from relationships. He loves libraries, but Lynda spent her life with children and pretty things. There is no hierarchy of good/better/best in their choices. He would probably quote C.S. Lewis in places she might quote Edgar A. Guest, but the most sacred spaces in his life are the same as in hers–where hand touches hand (whether the hand of a sibling, spouse, or the hand of God). He has known the great philosophers of this world, but his faith in God is the one thing which will carry him through these next few days.

  23. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Thank you for this touching reminder, Margaret. My heart, especially, aches for Lynda’s three children. My prayers today are for you all.

  24. Steve Jones says:

    #7 I too have been touched by your post. When my cousin died a few years ago from a complication from surgery, she first slipped into a coma. With all of her family around her in the hospital she awoke and told them she only had a few minutes because Uncle Max (my father) and Daddy are her to take me home. My father had been gone for about 7 years at that time and her father had died the year previously.

  25. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    These are interesting points, Margaret and Steve (#7 and #24); the temple as preparatory for our escort home… Perhaps, then, I don’t need to be anxious about not remembering everything, and often feeling lost, during my infrequent visits to the temple?

  26. Think about it, Patricia. When you DO go to the temple, is there ever a moment you’re left to feel lost? There is always someone to show you where to go and help you remember what to say. If you even look like you’ve forgotten something, a worker will always be there to direct or prompt you.

  27. My prayers are with you and the Tucketts. I’d also like thank you for sharing such beautiful, poignant story.

    One thing that stands out to me is that we, as a people, are able to see the beauty and wonder of God and life in someone’s passing. Not that it makes it any easier. But maybe more worthwhile? There doesn’t usually seem to be much gnashing of teeth at our funerals. My father, for example, has repeatedly (and seriously, I believe) requested that we play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture at his services. With cannons. He feels that it would properly reflect his feelings of, “I’m outta here, baby!” We’ll see if Mom let’s him have it his way . . .

  28. Well spoken. What an inspiring epitaph. I’m so sorry for your loss and the loss to all those who knew her. I did not know her well, but I know the Tuckett’s and they are absolutely solid individuals. What a blessing to have had her in your family and what a blessing to know that she will be able to live again with all of her family. I pray that God will give all of Lynda’s families and friends comfort and peace and help the pain turn into pleasantness.

  29. Lynda’s obituary, written by her husband
    Lynda Young Tuckett

    On Monday, April 7, 2008, our loving wife, mother, daughter, sister, and dear friend lost her ten year battle with breast cancer, the past two years being painful bone cancer. She is now free from her pain and the cares of the world. For this we are grateful.

    Lynda was born September 28, 1962 in Payson Utah. She was born to goodly parents, Daren C. and Ruth W. Young, and was blessed to have been born into a wonderful, loving family with five siblings. She resided most of her life in Spanish Fork. Lynda met her sweetheart at a Single Adult dance and knew that they would be eternal companions after this first chance meeting. She was married on June 26, 1981 in the Salt Lake Temple to Joseph Steven Tuckett. After living one year in Spanish Fork, they purchased a home in Payson and resided there until her death. Together they raised three beautiful children. The oldest is Steven, then Angeline, then her baby, Aubriana.

    Lynda graduated from Spanish Fork High School and attended UVSC for a short time until her marriage. She was a very intelligent person although, in her modesty, she didn’t feel that she was.

    Lynda served the Lord diligently, always going the extra mile, in every calling that she received. She served in the Primary, Cub Scouts, Young Women, and the Relief Society. She also served the Lord well by being a good neighbor and friend to those around her. Often, she would send notes to someone after they had given a touching talk or lesson in church…or to a stranger who she felt needed a little encouragement or to be lifted up in some small way.

    Lynda worked for many years as a Title One Technician for Nebo School District. She worked until two weeks before her death. She touched the lives of many children, co-workers, and teachers alike. This is evident by her former students who would run to her and wrap their loving arms around her when they would see her years later. It is also evident from the comments of many of her co-workers who have expressed their deepest love and regards at her passing. Our family is very grateful for your wonderful gifts of love that you have given to us over the years. We thank you.

    Our sincere thanks go to those health care providers who have blessed Lynda and made her ordeal as comfortable as possible. You truly showed to her the pure love of Christ. We thank Dr. J. Cordell Bott and Dr. T. J. Blair. We also thank Amber, Shirley, Natalie, and countless other practitioners, nurses, and aides from the Central Utah Cancer Clinic who blessed Lynda through these trying times.

    Our thanks goes to our many LDS Ward and Stake leaders, members, neighbors, and friends who have given us food, gifts, and, most importantly, their love and support. We thank our families and friends who joined with us in countless prayers, fasts, and blessings in Lynda’s behalf.

    Lynda is survived by her husband Joe; her children Steven Curtis, Angeline, and Aubriana; her parents Daren and Ruth Young; and her siblings Bruce, Annette, Lawrence (Larry), and Daren K. Lynda is also survived by many nephews, nieces, and cousins who she dearly loved. She was preceded in death by her sister, Nancy, and her grandparents, Alfred Raymond and Emma Jane Bingham Wilson, and Lawrence Alfred and Leila Cutler Doney Young.

    There is a quote that typifies Lynda: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    From her cheery, loving disposition, to her beautiful smile and infectious laugh, she was, through and through, one of God’s sweetest angels sent from heaven. We are all blessed to have known her and loved her. To have known Lynda was to have loved Lynda. We know there are many beyond the veil that are grateful to have her return home. Sweetheart, you will be sorely missed but, never forgotten.

  30. What a beautiful obituary. Thanks for sharing it, Margaret.

    There is a good chance Lynda’s family knows my extended family. I will pass on this news to them.

  31. When my gramma was dieing of cancer we would often overhear her speaking to someone in her bedroom. My mom would ask her later, “Mama, who were you talking too?” and Gramma would name one of her many siblings who had passed away so many years before. Sometimes it seemed she was more in that world than this one, but the body kept her here.

    My mom, my grandma, and I all shared the same birthday. My niece was due on our birthday that same year as Gramma lay balanced on the edge of two worlds for so many weeks. Our birthday was still 20 days away and my mom really felt that Gramma was waiting to see if the baby came on our birthday. Mom couldn’t bear it anymore, so she crawled up in bed with Gramma and said, “Mama, it’s our birthday today and guess what? The baby came! Isn’t it wonderful? She’s here, Mama. You can go now.” And within the hour she was gone.

    My mom worried that her mom would be mad at her when she got to the other side and found out she’d been tricked. She also said she was sure Gramma was up there letting everyone know that that baby was going to be born on our birthday no matter what. And 20 days later she was. The releasing of a loved one from one world to the out-stretched arms of the next. And so it continues.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,749 other followers