I have a pair of glasses that sit on my desk to remind me to be grateful. I call them my gratitude glasses. There’s no need to put them on. Simply seeing them there reminds me to look at life from a perspective of gratitude no matter the circumstances.
Recently my family went through a very difficult time, and as I’ve looked through the lens of my gratitude glasses, I’ve been able to see the incredible blessings and tender mercies that the Lord has given to us.
It all started with COVID hitting everyone in our home. This included myself, my husband, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and my brother-in-law with special needs. We didn’t share this news with many people. We didn’t want them to worry, and we didn’t think we needed any help. We thought we were strong enough to carry this burden on our own.
We had no idea that the burden would become bigger than we imagined and that the Lord would send people into our lives to help us carry it. We would need to put away our pride and be willing to receive the Christlike love and kindness that was about to come flooding our way.
It started with watermelon. When my friend Joy found out that I had the virus. She reached out to me asking what she could do to help. She offered to bring us dinner, buy us groceries, or help in any way she could. My heart was touched, but my pride kicked in. I texted her back and thanked her but told her we were fine and didn’t need anything. She really wanted to help and asked if she could at least drop off some watermelon on our porch.
I do love a good watermelon, so I agreed to let her drop it by. The interesting thing is that I had lost my sense of taste because of the virus. Even though I couldn’t taste how sweet the watermelon was, the texture was soft, and it felt like a treat, especially because it came from my sweet friend.
A couple weeks later, Joy showed up again on the porch with another watermelon. This time the watermelon wasn’t brought as an offering to a woman who was sick with the virus. It was brought as an offering to a woman with a loved one in the hospital in critical condition. By this time, everyone in my family had recovered from the virus except my father-in-law, Papito.
Papito’s health was poor before he contracted the virus, and when my husband took him to the emergency room, he was diagnosed with double pneumonia. He stayed in the hospital for a week and a half and then was moved to a rehabilitation hospital, where he lived for another week and a half before he passed away peacefully.
While Papito was in the hospital and after he had passed away, our family received an outpouring of love and ministering from people of all ages.
The depth of gratitude I feel cannot be adequately expressed in words. One of my favorite scriptures is found in Alma 26:16. It says, “Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.”
Please accept my feeble attempt to give you a glimpse of the deep love and gratitude my family and I have felt in our hearts during the last several weeks.
We were grateful for the kind people in our ward who brought delicious meals to our home. These kind members have mastered the art of cooking way better than I have, and I appreciated every bite of every meal I didn’t have to make. Their service allowed me time to grieve and coordinate burial arrangements instead of having to worry about what I was making for dinner each night.
One sister included a delicious peach cobbler with her dinner. Our family ate most of it but left some of it for the next day. I had a hard time sleeping that night. I woke up worried at 2 a.m. and ate a few bites of the cobbler sitting on the counter. It was a sweet treat for me, and I thanked the sister for what I called my “comfort cobbler.”
We were grateful for the beautiful floral arrangements and heartwarming notes that poured into our home. One particularly precious note came from our friend’s 6-year-old daughter, Elsie. She wrote the following message:
“Dear Miguel and Gina, I love you guys so much and I am deeply sorry that your dad died. It was probably hard for you. It was hard for me when my great-grandpa died too. I’m glad you can see him in heaven and I know that he will always be in your hearts.”
My heart melted as I read these tender words from our young friend. She went on to say that if we ever needed her that we could call her and that she would be right there. I believed her. I believed that sweet little Elsie would be right there for us.
There were so many people who were right there for us, including the kind and loving nurses and respiratory therapist who were with my husband and I in the hospital on the day that Papito passed away. We were deeply grateful for their love, kindness, and compassion on a very difficult day in our lives.
There is a quote from Elder Holland that perfectly describes how we felt about each person who loved, supported, and reached out to us during this time:
“Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind” (“The Ministry of Angels,” general conference, Oct. 2008).
Now, when I look at my gratitude glasses, I am reminded of the many kind people who served us when we needed them most. Their sweet service inspires me to look for small and simple ways to serve others every day.