We are so blessed to be here in Salt Lake City paying our last respects and saying our last farewells to President Hinckley. Every moment has been rich and full of the Spirit.
After the press preview with Church Public Affairs on Wednesday (January 30), Maurine and I decided to drive the route that the cortege will travel to the Salt Lake City Cemetery. We know the way very well because the Hinckleys’ gravesite is very close to where Maurine’s parents are buried.
We knew this would be poignant, but we thought we would be there with many other members of the press. We were wrong. In the brief twenty minutes we were there in the bitter cold, we were there alone. I wanted to share a few pictures with you of this very familiar place to us. Maurine and I have been here countless times and know this hillside very intimately.
If you look at the top of the rise there just to the left of the large stone you will see the Hinckleys’ marker. There are many graves on this hillside of familiar leaders of the Church.
A couple of wooden platforms have been built for the graveside service on Saturday. The snow, in many places, is more than a foot deep. Much effort has gone into preparing the area for the family to arrive here.
Because most of you will not get to come to the cemetery here in Salt Lake, I wanted you to get a close up view of the stone and the setting of where our beloved Prophet’s remains will be laid to rest.
It’s hard to comprehend the letters H-I-N-C-K-L-E-Y etched in a granite stone on a hillside in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. It’s like my mother said to us on Sunday night, “We have all come to believe that President Hinckley would live forever.” She was right in every sense. We believed it and it is true. He will live forever, and we will see him again in the next world.
Here you can see the names of these two sweethearts etched in stone. I think that when Sister Marjorie Hinckley passed away that April day nearly four years ago, it nearly broke the Prophet’s heart.
Here you can see the entire stone. It is simple and fitting.
It seems appropriate that the Hinckleys’ stone would be on this hillside overlooking the valley of the Great Salt Lake. President Hinckley’s grandparents came to this place two generations before him. His deep sense of our pioneer heritage has been a hallmark of his life.
I walked around the platform and looked at every angle and view. I was still in my suit and Sunday shoes so my feet were getting very cold, but my spirit was warmed by the experience.
We lost Maurine’s mother this past summer at age nearly-94. Little did we know we would be returning here just seven months later from President Hinckley’s funeral.
I took this picture of Maurine standing by her parents’ grave (just to the right there) so I could show you the proximity to the Hinckleys’ grave. You can see their stone in the midst of the wooden platform just right of Maurine’s shoulder. Notice how deep the snow is.
Before we leave I wanted to give you one more close-up view looking east and a little bit north. The stone faces south and overlooks the entire valley. This is a peaceful place.
We turn the camera south for one last view of the valley below. The large stone at the right of the picture and just below the Hinckleys’ is that of President David O. McKay and his beloved Emma Ray. There are many prophets buried in this cemetery. We’ve always thought this would be a nice place to be on resurrection morning.
As we got into the car and turned the heater onto our feet, we drove around to the north and then the east and then headed south and I turned my camera for one last view for you. Just as I pulled the camera out for this last shot some of the press began to arrive, but our entire visit to this sacred place had been alone.