It hasn't actually been a month yet, two days shy, to be precise.
However, this morning, as I went out on my morning walk (yes, I'm biting the bullet and calling a spade spade), I had idea after idea of events and thoughts and observances about which I wanted to blog. Never fear, I'm NOT going to share them all today. All the same, if that's not a sign that I've been on vacation long enough, I don't know what is.
And now, on to our story . . .
When Eric and I had been married about a month, I volunteered to take a meal to a couple in my ward. The wife had been diagnosed with a particularly virulent form cancer and was undergoing the poisonous treatment that generally accompanies those kinds of diagnoses. Wanting to help out, I carefully made the easy-on-the-queasy meal, loaded it up in my car, and at the appointed time, went to the home to make the delivery.
At this point in the story, it will be important to remember that at the time all of this was taking place, I had yet to feel comfortable in this particular ward, and I was spending a more-than-healthy amount of time thinking things like "Poor Charlotte, no one wants to be her friend." To put it another way, my view of the situations and the people at the time was surely a little bit clouded by my own inaccurate perceptions.
When I arrived at the house, I was greeted by the husband, who didn't seem to know what to do with me. As he stared at me blankly, I heard a sharp-ish female voice from the side room, demanding that he take the food, and curtly dismissing me. I handed over the meal, and made my way back to the car.
I'm embarrassed to admit that rather than dismissing it as I should have, I kept that memory with me for months, even years. Anytime I though of this particular woman, I would remember this experience, and even though I never shared it with anyone (until now, that is), I simply would not let it go.
I should have given Sister H the benefit of the doubt, knowing that she was dealing with trials and climbing mountains that I hoped never to endure. And to be honest, In my mind, I did give her the benefit of the doubt. My heart though? Well, that was an entirely different story.
And then, it all changed.
On Sunday, August second, as I was trying to keep Heather from climbing over the back of our pew, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a woman rise from her seat and make her way (gingerly) to the front of the chapel. Her hair was short, white, and thinning. She walked with a cane, and she had a look about her of one who has seen more than her share of trouble. As she made her way up to the front, I realized that I didn't recognize her. In fact, I was quite certain that I'd never seen her before.
But, as you've surely guessed, this was my Sister H. As she spoke to the congregation, sharing her story and her faith, I had a change of heart. I could go on about how I felt and what I wanted to do about it, but I think it's best if I just leave it there.
I had a change of heart.
The meeting ended, the Sabbath ended, and regular life resumed. As I went about my routine, I would sometimes stop to think of Sister H, contemplate how I could best serve her, and say a little prayer for her.
Two days ago, I received a phone call from my Relief Society President. Sister H had been admitted to the hospital, her organs were failing, and the end looked to be very near. So near in fact, that funeral arrangements were being made. She told me that Sister H had made only one definite request for her funeral, and it was that a certain song be sung as part of the meeting. Did I know the song? Could I sing it?
The song was You Raise Me Up, made popular by Josh Groban. I'd heard it of course (who hasn't?), but I'd never seen sheet music, or attempted to sing it. I called around town, located and secured a copy of the music. As is often the case with songs written for male vocalists, I found that the range was not all that comfortable for my voice. Fortunately, I found that if I made some minor modifications to the song, and warmed up really really well, I could sing it without sounding like I was screeching up to the notes.
I called the Relief Society President back, and told her I could do it. She told me that Sister H had passed on about fifteen minutes prior to my call.
And so it is that tomorrow at noon, I will be helping to fulfil the only specific desire that Sister H had for her funeral.
I don't mind telling you, that's special to me. In fact, I count it as a small miracle, and a blessing. I count it as evidence that the Lord knew of my change of heart, and arranged for me to have a new, more powerful, more joyous, and more permanent memory of Sister H. I count it as an olive branch of forgiveness that Sister H has offered me, as odd and improbable as that sounds.
I count it as a tender mercy.