He was president of the church for all of my adult life thus far, becoming the prophet around the same time I graduated from high school. What a wonderful man! I'm so grateful he was able to lead our church for as long as he did. I'm grateful he was so active and healthy during his tenure. And as much as I am going to miss him (it's hard to even imagine General Conference without him!), I'm grateful he is with his precious wife again. I know he missed her so much.
Of all the many memories I have of President Hinckley--waving his cane at audiences, telling the story of the walnut tree and the new podium, talking about the new Conference Center, announcing the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple--the one I want to share happened not at Conference, not at a regional meeting, not even at a devotional. It was during the groundbreaking ceremony of the new wing of the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU on September 30, 1996. As the ceremony ended, and all the dignitaries dug the shovels into the earth, I happened to be in just the right position to be very close to where the prophet stood. As I stood there, twenty feet away, I felt the Spirit bear the most powerful witness that this man was the Lord's annointed. It was just an amazing, unexpected moment, standing there in the sun, straining to hear what was being said as they laughed while turning over the dirt. My soul just knew that President Hinckley has was chosen of God for that time to lead the Church.
And now it is time for another worthy, righteous man to lead the church. I am praying for President Monson, and his family, and I am thrilled to see where the Lord leads our church in the next months and years. But for tonight and tomorrow, I am just going to miss President Hinckley.