Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Day I Needed a Blessing

It was just a couple of years ago. One of those days where I was as close to the edge as I ever didn't want to be. With my dad far away, I asked my father-in-law, a real good guy, if he could give me a blessing of comfort and guidance. We planned to go there that Sunday evening.

My wife, our ward Relief Society President, got a call about a family in our neighborhood. Our friends were out of town and their son's step-daughter, playing with her twin sister, had collapsed in outdoor play, stopped breathing, and turned blue. The twin went running for help, found her step-dad and he, having been a Boy Scout, commenced CPR. The girl was breathing when the paramedics arrived but remained unconscious to the hospital and after while the doctors scrambled to figure what was wrong. My wife suggested that we stop by the hospital on the way to her parents' so she could visit with them.

I hate hospitals. I much prefer funerals. My faith in the afterlife is so solid that I appreciate the sense of earthly finality and closure. Hospitals are full of pain, suffering, anxiety, and uncertainty.

I've been in a lot of hospitals - never for anything major on my part. I've been with family members, missionaries, friends, and a lot of people I didn't know because I often took assignments to go as an LDS Elder to offer comfort and blessings. In Santa Fe, we claimed appropriately that we were "clergy." But still had to fight to get the lists of religious affiliation.

They were usually brief visits. Some patients and their families were in extreme duress. We established contact with the family, provided what comfort we could, and administered a blessing with consecrated olive oil under the Priesthood authority we had been given of God by the laying on of hands by those He had authorized.

When we arrived a Primary Children's that Sunday evening, we were directed to an odd, semi-isolation wing. There was a waiting room inside the first sealed door and a second door to pass into the long hallway to where the little girl was.

My wife immediately latched on the the Hispanic grandmother of the little blonde girls. In a very friendly and confident way, my wife took charge of that waiting room. She and I traded off with the young baby and the twin frustratingly barred from the room where her sister was. She wore a mask as it was not known if she had been infected as a carrier of whatever her twin had.

My wife was back and forth with the Grandma. I helped juggle the kids. Then, in conversations with the grandmother, my wife started talking about giving the little girl a blessing. She came to me.

Primary Children's is a former LDS Hospital now managed by a non-affiliated, private corporation. In the olden days, we sang our song about five pennies making a nickel, two nickels make a dime, and they all shine for the little children in the red brick building we knew so well from the cardboard facsimile that served as the coin bank for our donations.

The red brick building is now condos and Primary Childrens is a nationally renowned children's hospital right next to the excellent University of Utah Medical Center. But with the LDS heritage and geography, the staff at Primary knew what to do about LDS Priesthood blessings. There was a drawer with a vial of consecrated oil. They had a list of people on staff who were qualified to help as Mormon Elders.

I was reluctant, but there is that sense of duty. It helped that the orderly they called to assist me was slow in arriving. When he did, we went down the long hall. I passed the step-dad, just a young kid who we don't see at church much. I complemented him on his Scout heroism.

It oddly ended up that the room was full of the non-LDS family - the mom, her mother. Also my wife was there. There was a doctor in for some procedure who didn't appreciate my less than orderly partner stumbling around the monitors. The doc asked us to wait a minute and we did.

The beautiful, little girl was lying on the hospital bed with eyes closed and wires and tubes everywhere. They had for their medical reasons induced her into a coma. Her golden hair still flowed on the pillow. We performed the blessing. It took a lot of spiritual strength from me.

We said our goodbyes. My wife gave the grandmother one last big hug. She explained that things now depended on faith. Mine was close to exhausted. We left. On the way out I broke down in tears with my fear of hospitals and for that beautiful little girl.

The blessing from my Father-in-law was most comforting. My real blessing was that I was able to give one.

The next day, the step-father's parents were back. That grandmother, our friend from the neighborhood, reported that the little girl was awake and alert. It looked like things would be all right. She added that the other grandmother had been very moved by the blessing we gave.

This afternoon, some two years later, we went to an LDS Stake Center on the south side of Bountiful where the grandmother of the two twin girls was baptized. It looked like a good ward. There was a good crowd. It included the two cute twins. They came in late and one of them sat right next to me because we were in the back. Our neighborhood friends, the step-grandparents were there with the little one.

After the baptismal service, our friend insisted that we go up and greet the new member. She immediately recognized my wife with a great, big hug thanking us and saying how glad she was to see us. She gave me a hug too with apparent recognition as I said something about this happier occasion than the last.

Spiritual power. It is in giving that we receive.

Statuary on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, representing angelic visitors, Peter, James, and John
restoring the fullness of Priesthood to the Earth by ordaining Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery

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