There are far better tributes to Thomas S. Monson than anything I can write. I didn’t know him personally but he is the first voice I can remember from general conference. His stories drew me in as a child and I found I could understand them, relate to them, and they inspired me to do better.
I heard him speak many times. BYU devotionals, regional conferences, at the MTC, in person at general conference, once at a temple dedication (I think it was Mt Timpanogas), and once at a Boy Scout Jamboree in 2005 where I had to courage to join the throngs lining the path as he made his way to a car. I got close enough to feel his fingers brush my hand and to take a picture.
All those experiences brought a certain fondness for the man and his sermons. But none of those were enough to warrant this commentary.
I honor the memory of Thomas S. Monson because of the certain witness I had in April 2008, sitting in the back of a General Conference Priesthood Session in Hesperia California, when he spoke and I knew he was the prophet. The mantle of Gordon B. Hinckley rested on him. He was a spokesman for God. A voice crying in the wilderness. Those moments are the foundation stones of my faith. The reason I keep going and the power behind my convictions.
Peace to the rescuer. Godspeed to those of us who remain.