“Meeting Loneliness with Love,” Ensign, Dec. 1982, 67
I was surprised to hear the phone ring after eleven o’clock last Christmas Eve. My mother was calling long distance from California, feeling lonely for her children and grandchildren who lived far from her.
Five years earlier my mother had had a massive stroke which left her a partial invalid. My father cared for her without complaint, but the sudden change to almost total dependence was probably the hardest trial of her life. She felt like a burden on my father and had difficulty dealing with the loneliness that comes from being unable to get about.
Of European birth and not a member of our Church, my mother had been raised to keep her heartaches and most other emotions to herself. It had always been difficult for her to either express or receive graciously affection and love. During our frequent telephone calls, I had tried to reassure her, to let her know how we loved her, but she felt so uncomfortable that she would quickly change the subject or interrupt me.
This Christmas Eve she felt especially low and needed reassurance that she was no burden to any of us, particularly my father. As we talked, my heart filled with compassion and understanding of how hard this was for her. I told her how much I loved her and reassured her of her great value to us and my father. My mother was unusually silent for a long moment. Instead of changing the subject or interrupting me, she let the words sink into her heart.
That night was the last night I talked with my mother. The following Sunday she suffered another massive stroke, which left her unconscious. She died a few days later.
Love is the greatest message of Christmas: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Now the Savior, in turn, desires that we learn to love one another. How grateful I am for that moment of giving and receiving love that night! It has made me desire to love better and be more worthy of the Savior’s love for us.—Isabelle Briner, Sandy, Utah