“I Followed You,” Ensign, Apr. 1991, 62
Tucked in a pocket of my wallet is an old, rain-smudged business card. I keep it as a reminder of the day I learned a lesson about charity.
One wintry Sunday morning my friend Sandra telephoned to ask if I would help with her Gospel Doctrine class. I blurted out my apology and tearfully explained that I was just leaving for the hospital. A nurse had called to tell me my nineteen-year-old daughter had fled the hospital’s drug detoxification ward.
“What can I do?” Sandra quickly asked. I had no idea. All I could think about was trying to find my daughter, who I knew was too sick to survive outside the hospital. I choked out a response to Sandra, hung up the telephone, and rushed to my car.
A frantic search of the hospital confirmed that my daughter had left the building with her roommate, a young woman who had checked in at the same time.
I drove around the area near the hospital, looking desperately along the streets, down the alleys, in yards and gardens. In the bleakness of that Sunday morning, I could find nothing to give me hope.
I prayed. Then it seemed logical to search for her a few blocks away in a house where some of the girls’ friends lived. Since both girls were barefoot and dressed in their pajamas, it seemed impossible they could get that far, but it was the only place in the area that the girls knew well.
Before I knocked at the door of the old house, I had a feeling they were inside. A young man answered the door and admitted that the girls were there. After an hour of my coaxing, the pair finally emerged—haggard and shivering. They were suffering from withdrawal, and the hospital medication made them incoherent. They climbed unsteadily into my car.
I returned them to the hospital, and the nurse reassured me that my daughter and her roommate would stay to complete their treatment.
When I walked outside, rain was falling onto the parking lot pavement, drizzling from a dreary gray sky. As I unlocked my car door, I saw a soggy piece of paper tucked under the windshield wiper. I unfolded the business card and read, “I followed you and waited until 1:08. Things seem under control. Call me if I can help. Sandra.”
I soon learned what my friend had done for me. She had arranged for someone to teach her Gospel Doctrine class, and then she had followed me throughout the morning. Sandra had stayed just far enough away to avoid causing a problem with the frightened runaways, but close enough to monitor each phase of the morning’s events.
When we returned to the hospital, Sandra had waited several hours, then checked with the nurses to be certain I did not need her before she left. My friend had shadowed my every step, a guardian angel waiting to spring into action if the situation became too difficult for me to handle.
Bleak days can become brighter because of an act of charity. My daughter has overcome her addiction now, and she has returned to college and is doing well. But I still keep Sandra’s business card in my wallet. The blurred lines on the card are a testament of my friend’s charity toward me at a time when I needed it.