The beautiful lady in the middle of this picture is Kim Milligan. She passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly this past week from a severe stroke. She was 32 years old and in perfect health. Like everyone who knew her, I am in disbelief. Everyone in our ward and neighborhood is lining up anxiously looking for ways to help her sweet, young family. Her husband is our recently called bishop. I'm not sure what to do, but I can share my thoughts about my friend and neighbor by writing a letter to her and letting her family know that they were not alone in appreciating this amazing woman.
You were my backyard neighbor for a little over five years. When we first moved in you came over to introduce yourself and told me you prayed us here. I don't doubt that you did! You are a woman of great faith. And in all the major tests of faith you've had, I never saw you waver or doubt.
We didn't live by you when Josh was diagnosed with cancer when he was three, but I've heard you bear testimony of how it strengthened your family and your faith. You told me how much your family was shaped by the experience. Your family scripture/motto became Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest". Josh was healed and you taught others by your example of faith.
I was here when Ryder was one and his skull was fractured in numerous places from the accident with the horse. I heard you bear your testimony of the power of the priesthood. Another "Milligan Miracle" and Ryder was healed with no lasting effects.
And I talked with you when your good husband was called to be the bishop of our ward. What a heavy load for him, but my heart went out to you thinking of the extra load you would need to carry. Five little kids and a busy schedule of school and extra-curricular activities. That was in June and we chatted many times and I would ask you how you were doing and I never heard you complain. In fact, you said you couldn't complain when you knew so many people needed Jim's help.
You instilled this faith in your children and even in the moments following your passing your children were concerned that their dad might be released from his calling as bishop. They were concerned because they wanted the blessings that would come from him fulfilling his calling.
You have been my visiting teacher for quite a while and I've loved the chance to get to know you better. In fact you visited me only the day before your trouble began last Saturday. We were neighbors but it hasn't been until the last couple of years that I feel like we've really gotten to know each other. You have been an example to me as you diligently visited me every single month. You've been my counselor in the Primary presidency and I always knew that you were 100% dependable. You had so much on your plate but if you said you were going to do something it was as good as done.
You had a beautiful, singing voice. I liked it when you sat behind me in choir practice. I am an alto that could probably pull off the tenor part if need be. I was a little envious of your angelic soprano voice. To be honest that wasn't the only thing I was a little envious of. You were so ladylike and gracious and lovely in everything you did. Your laugh and your smile was so beautiful. I never, ever heard you utter a negative thing about anyone. A while back several ladies in our ward regularly did a girl's night out. You were hesitant to participate because you worried that there might be gossiping and you didn't want to be involved in that. Sometimes you were so good it made me a little uncomfortable! But that was MY problem. You had no trouble standing up for what was right.
You were so dedicated to your children and helping them develop their talents. Mikayla with dance and Josh with football. I know you were so proud of Josh working so hard in football this year and how excited you were that his team had done so well. I have loved teaching Mikayla, Josh, and now Joey piano lessons. I don't know if the kids will be to lessons tomorrow but I can't wait to get my arms around them and give them big hugs. I know that your family and the whole ward is anxious to help mother your children. I know that there are hard times ahead for them but in your short years you have given them a foundation of faith and strength. They will know how much you loved them. I have no doubt that they will be loved and taken care of by so many.
I told my girls that you spent your whole life doing what you should. You were an obedient daughter. You went to college. You married Jim in the temple. You bore your children and found joy in womanhood and motherhood. I can understand why some might question why you had to leave when you did when you were so good. I don't know why and it is so sad to us. Yet, I don't doubt that you would say to all of us not to worry. I think you would quote us the scripture in Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage."
Kim, thank you for what you have taught me. I will never forget your example. Your children will always be welcome in my home. Your passing has changed everyone who has known you. Everyone will try to be a little more faithful, diligent, meek and kind. We will try to be more like Jesus Christ. We will try to be more like you. That is the legacy that you have left in your short time here on earth. We are so sad to say goodbye for now, but are comforted to know that we'll see you again and you will be united with your sweet husband and children again and forever.
Love Your Friend,