About two months ago I got a new route for visiting teaching. I now visit two sisters. Both of these women are incredible. Not only do they each have great personalities but both of them are fighters. One of them has a brain tumor and the other one not only has cancer but also had a stroke about a year ago. After visiting these sisters this last month, I believe that I was the one who received the greater lesson.
When I was sitting in the living room of one of the sisters, we sat and talked about her daughter and her grandchildren. She got so excited as she discussed the possibility of them coming out for Christmas. Then she got very emotional as she shared with me her fears and concerns of her daughter seeing her like she is. Mentally and physically she has aged and of course she continually battles the frustrating residual effects of a stroke. As she poured her heart out to me I held her shaky aged hands in mine and tried to comfort her the best way I knew how. I felt impressed to share with her that the same beautiful spirit that she came to this earth with is still within her and that will never change. We continued to chat for awhile and as I was leaving she kissed Hailey goodbye and reminded me to enjoy these precious moments with my children that will be gone before I know it. As she stood on her front porch and waved goodbye, I felt so much love for this woman. Her husband passed away years ago, and yet she continues onward, battling age and disease in the best way she knows how.
Then I went to the next sister's house and listened as she told me of an incredible experience she had at the temple. Then she showed me how her hair is falling out because of the chemo treatments that she is taking yet again. Once again I felt impressed to talk to her about the beautiful spirit within her. I have loved this woman ever since I moved here. She is loving, thoughtful, grateful, humble, and just as the older sister I visit, she is a fighter. Because of her brain tumor, she has seizures and memory loss that has become a part of her everyday life. And yet, you never hear her complain. There is spunk in both of these women. A special fire within them that keeps them going and fighting day in and day out.
I couldn't imagine how hard it must be to lose my hair by the handfuls or to not have the words come out that I want to say, but I do know what it is like to be in the presence of these women. Yes, their bodies show the effect of the diseases they carry, but they are just bodies, tabernacles of two beautiful and remarkable spirits.
The next day as I got out of the shower and glanced in the mirror at my body, my heart sunk as I was once again reminded of the price I have paid having five children. My body will never be the same. The vertical scar below my belly button, ever pointing heavenward to the baby of my dreams, and the horizontal scar still fresh and red from the recent reopening. Although I would never trade my children for a perfect body free of scars, I still look forward to the day when this body of mine will be resurrected in a more perfect form. But even as this hopeful and joyful thought came to my mind, the spirit reminded me one more time that this is just a body, a tabernacle that houses a divine and heavenly spirit.
Although I should do all that I can to take care of my body and treat it as the temple it is, there is only so much that we can do. Aging is inevitable, and with aging comes the possibility and probability of disease. I have seen my dad fight with diabetes and the unbearable pain of neuropathy for years. I have witnessed my great grandma slip away with alzheimers and my grandpa quickly and unexpectedly die from leukemia. I have prayed and fasted for cancer to leave and never reappear in the body of my sister-in-law. Each of these diseases bring hardships, sorrows, and frustrations. But we need not fear. Our spirits will rise above these mortal afflictions. Fear for the future can be swallowed up in hope and anticipation for the eternities as we remember that these imperfect tabernacles of ours are just bodies, bodies that will someday lay to rest as they wait for the day when they will be reunited once again with our spirits to rise forth in glory.
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