He had battled leukemia for several years but the last few times he spoke, he seemed so much stronger and confident. I truly thought he was going to be with us for a while. While not wishing ill on any members of the apostleship, I thought there would be others that would most certainly go before him. It has been a while since anyone in that elect circle has died...we haven't had any deaths for I believe nearly 10 years now. My prayers are with his family, as well as the rest of his colleagues, who after working together so closely for so long, they must be greatly saddened by his death.
And poor Pres. Hinckley, who recently lost his wife and now loses such a close, close friend.
...the world is certainly poorer for his absence.
LDS Apostle, Neal A. Maxwell passes away...
While out on my mission Pres. Hinckley and Elder Maxwell and their wives came and visited. We had a joint fireside with the DC North mission.
It was an incredible night but one particular highlight was when Elder Maxwell's wife got up to speak. She was a lovely lady, very self aware with a surprising sense of humor.
"I know Neal is known for being quite a wordsmith...in fact, when he finally summoned up enough courage to ask me to marry him, he did it in such a roundabout, overly verbose way I had to ask him to repeat himself!"
BUA HA HA HA!!! SO cute...and there he was on the stand, laughing and putting his head in his hands. I could tell it was a memory that always cracked the two of them up.
Later, after the fireside, Pres. Hinckley and Elder Maxwell offered to shake all of our hands. (!!!!) I remember noting how short he was and wondering what it would be like to see this little mushroom of a man play tennis since I heard he has a passion for it...and then I shook his hand. Very firm. Very confident and very humble as he thanked me for coming to the fireside.
Honestly though, as cool as this experience was...I think my defining Maxwell moment came from a talk he gave, also while I was out on the mission. He talked about sacrifice...and how we have to place our own beasts upon the altar like Abraham did with Isaac. The thing we DON'T want to give up, the thing we LOVE... the thing we KNOW the Lord has asked us to surrender. We have to let it go. We have to concecrate ourselves to the Lord. We have to absolutely give ourselves up. (I hated this talk...I hated it because I would try and try, and it would never seem to be enough, until my mission president pointed out that probably is is never enough, because I wasn't GIVING everything up. Just. Let. It. Go.)
I had tears pouring down my face during that talk...and it seems to be a lesson I have to relearn over and over and over.
But so worth it.
When I read this morning he had died these two experiences instantly flitted through my memory. How I will miss hearing his masterful command of language slice deep into doctrine every conference. How I will miss his quiet power every time he stands up to speak.
While on the mission (I know, I know,) we used to joke that when Elder Maxwell got up to speak, all the interpreters started sweating and grabbing for their dictionaries.
Hopefully, upon his arrival at the other side, all he has to do is say, "Thank you."