Dedicated to Stuart Hilton
Note: Funeral services for Stuart Hilton were held on Saturday, July 9, 11 a.m.
“Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints, it takes and it takes and it takes…”
That’s life right now. Another cousin is gone, taken far before his time, only 6 months after Dallin died. A day dedicated to freedom and liberty now reminds me of the pain and captivity that others feel all around me that I may never fully understand. I don’t know what to say. I wasn’t as close to Stuart as I was to Dallin, but for the past six months I sat next to him every week at Sunday dinner, closing the gap left by Dallin’s absence.
We were the black sheep and I can see Stu and Dal now, smiling and laughing together, while Grandpa Gil shapes them up. There’s another empty place at our table, bringing with it that grief that still can’t be spoken.
I wonder if there was something I could have done. If I could have reached out and done more to mourn with him, to comfort him. To be a friend to him. But those questions only bring pain and guilt—unless they spur me to be more mindful of those around me now that may be feeling the pain and facing the darkness that Stuart was.
Stuart was similar to Dallin—a good-hearted softie, buried beneath a gruff, sometimes straight-up rude exterior. He deeply cared about his nieces and nephews, loving to spend time with them and play with them whenever he had the chance. He helped prepare dinner and set the table on Sundays—he looked out for me, making sure the mashed potatoes lingered a little longer around our plates and that the rolls always made their way back to me, grabbing more whenever they ran out.
We’d talk about movies (with no judgment for my R-rated film viewing) and share under-the-breath comments that may have gone less appreciated by others present. He cared for his siblings—especially Holly (even though they butt heads quite frequently)—going to games, watching their kids, traveling crazy distances to be around for important events, etc.
When he heard that I was staying at BYU for my Master’s he offered his condolences and volunteered to vicariously grow a beard for me. There’s a weird numbness couple with a resurgence of grief. It hurts less *and* more.
I believe that Stuart’s in a better place of some kind. Surrounded by people he loves and that love him. What does that look like? No idea. And that helps assuage the grief some, but it still hurts and he’s still gone. His chair is still empty.
I still don’t know what to do to help the pain and sorrow dissipate. But I think the thoughts I had with Dallin still apply—to let Stuart live in me, and in you. To get super into sports—having two TVs, a tablet, a laptop, and perhaps a phone to follow all the games and things that are going on. Watch movies. Eat that delicious green bean casserole with reckless abandon. Add loads of butter and some garlic salt to your mashed potatoes. Say what’s on your mind, even if cuts deep (probably implement with some caution). Care for those around you. Go about doing good quietly (or while grumbling loudly, as the case may be).
Life sure as hell doesn’t seem to discriminate between the sinners and the saints. And this year it takes and it takes and it takes. You never know the darkness another faces—so treat people with love.
I’ll miss you Stu. Godspeed.