I had a very sweet experience last Friday night. My husband was asked to visit a woman dying of cancer and I went with him. Although she has been in my ward in the past, I did not know her well. However I know two of her children as her daughter served on the seminary council one year, and her son is a very good friend of my daughter’s.
When we arrived we found her lying in bed, very thin and frail but bright eyed. Her family’s sorrow was quickly evident as during our stay all shed tears. One daughter climbed into the bed next to her mother and sobbed on her shoulder. Another daughter was eager to tell her mother about her new boyfriend who had plans to come to Arizona after Christmas to meet the family, but her voice choked as she realized that might not be soon enough. And yet another daughter stood with a brand new baby who will never remember meeting her grandmother. And there on the floor sat her son. He will be turning in his mission papers soon. The mother asked me how long it will take before he receives his call. It nearly broke my heart to tell her it would be a couple weeks.
Sitting there in the small room, took me back to a Christmas six years ago. Then it was my friend, Meg, who was dying of cancer. It was heartbreaking to watch her slip away little by little each day. And yet, one of my most fond memories is of climbing onto the bed next to her and addressing her Christmas cards, since she was not able to do it herself. Meanwhile, entertaining us was my friend Lisa, who was also on the bed, near the bottom, reading Christmas stories. As the three of us sat there together, sharing stories and giggles, I felt warmth and love flow into the room and wrap around us like a thick soft blanket. And for a few minutes the veil seemed so thin I was sure I could reach out my hand and part it.
Now here I was again, in a room watching someone slip from this life and I yearned for something I could do, some words of comfort I could offer, or a gift I could give. Just then she shifted her position and her feet hung over the side of the bed. So I asked, “Would you like me to rub your feet?” She responded, “Would you like to do that?” I told her I would. So she directed me to some lotion and I removed one of her slippers and began a massage. Her feet were small and thin and dry and the moisture from the lotion was quickly absorbed. But it was my hope that in the midst of her pain, the massage would be pleasant. I do not know if that was the case, but it was all I had to offer. I had nothing else. And although I know it wasn’t much, while sitting there with her foot in my hands I suddenly had come into my mind a picture of the Savior washing the feet of His disciples and I felt in my heart the love He had for them and for all of us. And my heart swelled with love for this dear sister.
It is hard to put in to words my feelings, but for me it was a very sacred experience and one I hope I always remember. I wish the best to this dear sweet sister and her wonderful family. My heart goes out to them at this challenging time. And I will be forever grateful to them that in the midst of their pain and sorrow they allowed me to come into their home for a few minutes, and learn a little more about the Savior and His love for us.
editor's note: I heard at church this morning that the sister passed away late last night.