I have a friend living with brain cancer. Recently her family threw her a birthday party and invited all who know her to come and express their love for her. She received many letters containing precious memories as well as visitors from near and far. As far as I can tell this is the only benefit cancer can provide: a window of time to tell a person you truly love them.
My friend’s daughter has been keeping a blog of her progress to update friends and family of her treatments and her reactions to those treatments. I have appreciated the blog because it gave me specific things to pray for like skillful surgeons, her anti-nausea medicine to work, her blood count to improve etc. My friend’s daughter documented her mother’s greatest desires after returning home from brain surgery. [Shared with permission.]
If there is an overall theme to her conversations, it is the intense, nearly overwhelming love that she feels a desperate need to communicate, but that there are no words to accurately convey. But I told her that spirit to spirit we have felt what she’s been trying to say. This has been a very sweet and tender time. We feel so blessed to have been through the shock and trauma and still have another opportunity to hug her and love her.
While we were getting dinner to her tonight, she asked me “Did we make any mistakes today?” I asked her what she meant, and she wanted to know if all our relationships were good or if there were any mistakes we needed to correct.
I have been pondering that blog post for some time now. Here, in her greatest time of need, my friend was teaching me something. Relationships matter! Expressing my love and mending relationships will be key to feeling content with my life on earth. Since reading that post I have spent hours thinking about my friends and family and wondering, “Are all my relationships good or are there any mistakes I need to correct?” It didn’t take close inspection to say, “Yes, there are mistakes I need to correct.” Most of my time pondering has been swept up in the how I am going to make things right. How do I overcome my pride? How do I heal these jealousies and insecurities? How do I gain more patience? Will they forgive me? Can I really learn how to love?
After asking God these questions, I have been receiving answers. God has been showing me that small, consistent acts of love are more effective than expensive gifts or outings. Emails, phone calls, thank you notes can keep hearts close. Remembering what people say shows you care. Honesty matters, but so does being true or loyal. Not everything needs to be said, especially when the information is unnecessarily critical or fodder for gossip. My time matters most to my children. These snippets of guidance remind me of a Book of Mormon scripture, Alma 37:6:
Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
When I attended my friend’s birthday party I got to sit down with her and tell her how that blog post impacted my life. We cried as she grabbed my hands and exclaimed, “It’s so important! We have to tell the people we care about how much we love them. Mend all of your relationships the best you can.” At that I looked her in the eye and said “I love you.” And she said, “I love you too.” We paused for a hug, and I left to let more of her friends and family wish her a Happy Birthday.