Last Tuesday our dear friends’ 1-month old baby passed away after a fight with the rarest form of the rare Shwachman Diamond Syndrome. As if this weren’t sad enough, there were surrounding circumstances that made the situation even more tragic. As I spoke with our friends I could do little else but weep. The night after the passing a few of us close friends visited them and I sat for 20 minutes crying, not saying a thing. Any thought that came to my head was stopped by the “would-this-be-a-comforting-thing-to-hear?” filter. There truly aren’t words.
At the funeral on Saturday the baby’s grandfather gave what would be considered the eulogy. But rather than talking about the life and accomplishments of the deceased he instead expounded upon all of the service, love and charity that this beautiful little girl inspired in those who surrounded her.
Beginning with the mother who was at her side (in the hospital incubator) all day, every day for the life-span of her baby. She spoke to her, read to her, sang to her and loved her as any mother would. The father did the same, only as a newly-called bishop and working attorney he did so as often as possible.
There was family, none of which live in New York, but visits, calls, prayers, packages and all manner of love were freely given. Family can be the great balm of comfort in times like these and theirs were no exception.
And then there were friends. Lots and lots of friends. It began immediately after the baby’s birth when she needed a blood transfusion. Every friend who was asked (and matched the blood-type) volunteered their blood, one of which immediately set up a schedule to give as often as he could. When it became clear that the mother would be spending all of her waking hours at the hospital there were those who brought them food, did their laundry, gave them rides, cleaned their home and visited them during the day. These things were not done out of duty, rather out of love.
And then there was the funeral. As a counselor in a bishopric whose bishop is out of town it fell upon me to organize the funeral and associated preparations (these friends have always been in our ward but he was recently called as bishop of a Spanish ward elsewhere in the stake). Our intention was to allow our friends to grieve with the fewest distractions as possible. On Wednesday morning another close friend, my wife and I took account of all that needed to be done and we immediately began to ask folks from both wards to help.
One of the great geniuses of our church is its organization. We have stewardships and it is ingrained within us to make sure they are taken care of, whether by our own hand or by delegation. Aside from Home/visiting teaching, we are very good at this and it showed this last week. I need the after-funeral luncheon organized and prepared—I ask the RS presidents of both wards to collaborate and prepare it—done, I don’t have to think about it anymore. I need ushers and car dispatchers—I talk to our EQ president—done, it’s taken care of, I’m done worrying about it. I need someone to record the audio—I talk to a guy in the ward with that equipment—done. I talk to one person about flowers—done. I talk to another person about a mother-requested musical number for the funeral—done. I talk to someone to organize transportation to the cemetery for everyone (not a small task where few people have cars)—done, I move on to the next need.
After three days of emails and phone calls everything came together perfectly. Every single person I spoke with enthusiastically accepted the given responsibility and asked for more. I never once had to follow-up to make sure a job would be done nor did I ever hear a single ounce of complaint or hesitation. By the time the viewing started I became a participant for the rest of the afternoon…everyone else was doing everything and our friends were able to mourn without distraction. As a ward family we truly mourned with those that mourned.
I have never been prouder to be a Mormon. These are my people.