Navigation Menu+

Love Him Enough to Let Him Go


By Linda Nelson

I met Bob when I was a freshman in high school– I was only 14. I knew when we met that we knew each other before this life. I didn’t know at the time what our future held for us, but I know God had a huge role in guiding it.  I graduated in June of 1963 and in August we were married. We had three daughters that were each about 18 months apart so they could be close and grow up together as “friends” and “fighting siblings” as normal kids do.

We moved to Pleasanton in the Bay area and while we lived there, Bob had a dream. In the dream, he was in the emergency room with his father who had become ill. They were waiting for their turn to see the doctor when they noticed people making a lot of noise and ridiculing a little child with special needs who was sitting on the floor in the corner. My husband walked over to the child and dispersed the crowd, chastising them for the way they were treating the child. He picked up the little boy who had matted, blonde hair and crystal blue eyes that looked like they were looking through your soul. He was crying so Bob kissed him on the forehead and the child suddenly transformed, his special needs were gone.

Bob woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me about his dream. It really affected us, so we talked about it with friends from our church. I had strong faith right from the beginning and always believed that God can speak to us in dreams, so I didn’t have a problem believing in Bob’s dream. We continued praying about it and had a big BBQ with our community to talk about it. We all came to the same conclusion: we were supposed to be involved with special needs children.  

A few years later, we moved to Washington and while we were there, we had the opportunity to adopt our first child, Stephen. He was born to our middle daughter and her boyfriend who were both on drugs and alcohol. The doctors didn’t expect him to survive — he is now 37 years old.

We have since adopted 8 more special needs children. I was given the name of each child in a dream just before we adopted him or her.

Our fourth adoption brought a beautiful confirmation. When our case worker called us and said there was a boy ready to be placed, we went into the office to meet him. When Bob and I walked in, Bob was in front of me and almost passed out, falling backwards into my arms. The boy’s face was the face of the child in his previous dream. It definitely confirmed to us that we were doing exactly what God had asked us to do. I knew that this was our calling.

Raising so many special needs children, especially with several that are (and were) total care, is difficult. When my children began early-morning seminary (a gospel study class before school), I was up by 3:30 am every morning so that by 4:30 we could be up with the boys doing family scripture study. Then, Bob would leave and take the boys to seminary,  and while the younger children were still sleeping, I would have a few minutes all to myself. That was my time for prayer and scripture study. Getting up that early everyday was difficult, but I needed that time for extra strength to continue. Then I would get the kids up and ready and line them up in the driveway waiting for all their buses to come.

There is always an excuse to not study God’s word– it’s too early or you’re too tired or whatever, but if you don’t take the time, you are going to be denied blessings that you could have been receiving.

I can do all things through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

I know that when we choose to serve the Lord, we will have everything that we need to do it– the strength, the courage, the peace of mind. It’s not going to be easy– He’s not promising us it’s going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.


My husband and I lost three of our children together, peacefully, in our home. In October of 2011, my husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He died nine months later, just before our 50th wedding anniversary. Losing Bob was the hardest thing I ever had to go through in my life. It was bitter-sweet; I didn’t want him to leave me, but I also didn’t want him to suffer and be in any more pain. My faith in knowing that we could be together again got me through the difficulty of his passing.

Four months after Bob passed away, I lost a fourth child and I know that when he passed away and saw his daddy on the other side, he was so happy. I was then left with 5 boys, Mathew the youngest, Christopher, Andy, Joey and Steve.

Christopher was Hydrocephalic and had no left brain. He was having trouble with the shunt in his head, so they put in a new one and drained his head. He needed to have a Broviac tube put in his chest for feeding and for giving him medications. He had all the bells and whistles to keep him alive, but that didn’t bother him. He was always so happy, and giggling and it was so infectious to everyone around.

At one point, he developed an infection in the Broviac tube, and became septic. We took him to the hospital where they put him on a ventilator, but he just wasn’t getting any better. I had that gut feeling that he wasn’t coming home.

After he was in the hospital for about 6 weeks, the head charge nurse came in and asked if we had ever considered Compassionate Care for him.

I knew what that meant.

There was nothing left they could do for him, but they could make him comfortable as they took him off life support.The doctor came in and told me what would be necessary to put him on Compassionate Care.

I needed to think about it. I couldn’t  just give an answer without praying about it, and the fact that I had to make this decision without Bob made it that much more difficult. I prayed that Heavenly Father would let me know when it was time and give me the opportunity to say goodbye and to be able to let go. My faith was strong and I believed that he could eventually be ok again and that God could heal him and we could go home, but after much prayer, I really felt like I needed to let him go.

Every time I walked into the hospital and saw him with things all over his face and wires all over his little body, I knew–I felt the spirit tell meI couldn’t let him stay that way any longer.  

The loss of a child hurts so badly that it feels like it tears your heart out of your body, but I knew it was his time– he was so tired. I came to the realization that I had to love him enough to let him go and because of my belief in God’s plan, I knew that we would be together again. I needed to give him back to God.

I needed to let him go home.  

The Words of God came quietly to mind, bringing me comfort- knowing that there would be a beautiful end to this life and then a beautiful beginning to his new life with our Heavenly Father.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalms 23

I came back up to Christopher’s room and gave the go ahead to start taking him off life support.  I held him with my arms wrapped around him while the song ‘God Be With You Till We Meet Again’ played in the background.

God be with you till we meet again; Keep love’s banner floating o’er you;

Smite death’s threat’ning wave before you. God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet, till we meet at Jesus’ feet.

Till we meet, till we meet,  God be with you till we meet again.

Jeremiah E. Rankin

The doctor pulled out the ventilator and he just slipped away. It was very peaceful and very beautiful.

Everyone on the floor,  the nurses and doctors who were there, all came into the room. They told me afterward that every time they walked into the room while I was there with Christopher, they felt the Spirit. They didn’t know what it was, but they felt it and they wanted to be there when Christopher passed.

I don’t know what their faith journey was, or what they believed, but everyone wanted that experience when they came into the room. I believe it is something they will always remember and that experience brought them a step forward in their faith. I believe that Christopher was on a mission and he fulfilled that mission and returned with honor.

I felt such a comfort that I had never felt before with the other children’s passing, and I knew then that God’s plan to return to Him again one day was true. I have no doubt about it, and I know where Christopher is and I know that he is now whole. I will try with every fiber of my being– I will do my best to try to live up to those covenants I’ve made with God to live righteously so that I will be able to be with him again.

People say we love our children to death, but WE say we love our children to life–no matter what that life is. That’s been the motto in our home since we had our first child. Nobody is promised tomorrow, so you deal with what you are given and make the best of it. Children  need to be loved and cared for in a family who wants them. Every single one of our children has taught us so much about unconditional love. We are the ones who have been blessed by them and we could never give back to them what they have given to us.

I don’t know what the chance of me outliving the children that I have left is. It’s possible that I may, but I will say one thing–when I go, I can’t wait to get there and be with them all. To see them all running, playing and talking– being able to see the sunlight and the sunset– It will just be so beautiful.



  1. Oh Linda, there are few women as remarkable as you. You have inspired us all to be better, to serve more and to have more faith. Those angel children have an angel of a mother and the best dad they could have ever asked for. You truly know our Heavenly Fathers plan and trust in him and our Savior to guide you and help you raise those wonderful little children. God bless you always. I love you. Jana

  2. Linda! I really needed to hear your story tonight, your faith, live , strength and testimony have lifted me repeatedly over the decades of our friendship. Thank you for your gentle steadfastness and unwavering faith!

  3. Beautiful and SO inspiring.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *