Something that will stick with me....
Today I made a phone call that I thought would "help" someone. A family in a neighboring ward, who lived a block away from us for a time and were one of the first families we met when we moved here, found out last year that their youngest son has an inoperable brain tumor. The past year has been full of ups and downs, sorrows and miracles, as this family has watched their little boy's condition both deteriorate and improve, both by great strides and by the narrowest of margins. The past few weeks have been especially hard, as it seemed that the end may have been near, only to have his symptoms decrease as he entered yet one more period of limbo, his family watching and waiting for whatever will happen next. Throughout this time, we (DH and I) struggle with the desire to help in some way, but are at a loss - we are no longer in the same ward, we don't have as close of contact with the family, none of our abilities seem to be in the realm of what would be useful to them, etc.
This boy's older sister is one of my piano students, and a very enjoyable one at that. I love her personality; it is as unique as her bright red hair is in a sea of blond- and brown-haired kids. She has been a no-show for her last few lessons - understandably, as her family life must adjust constantly to each change in her brother's condition. I decided to call her mother today to let her know that taking a break from piano for awhile would be fine, that she wouldn't have to worry (as if piano lessons were the utmost of her concerns right now) and that she could call whenever she wanted to start up again. In just this smallest of offerings, I thought this would be one way I could "help". I had my words all carefully chosen before I called, and dialed dutifully, only to be greeted with a harried "hello?" on the other end from my student's mother. My composure fell away as I stumbled out some words which I hoped conveyed what I was calling about in a compassionate way, something about "if you want to take a break for awhile, that's okay with me". What I heard next was a brisk, short compliance, obviously in response to ill timing of a phone call, but the part that stood out was the catch in her voice as she said, "Yes, that's fine. Bye." That catch is a sound I cannot get out of my head tonight and probably never will.