“A Friend in Time of Need,” Ensign, June 2000, 51–52
Two days after school started, our seven-year-old son, Robbie, came home early complaining about a pain in his leg. Thinking he was just tired from a run during gym, I thought little about it. When his leg continued to ache the next day, my husband, Larry, took him to the doctor. The pediatrician could find nothing wrong but suggested some blood tests.
That evening, the doctor called and told us to bring Robbie to the hospital immediately. The blood tests had revealed an abnormally high count of white blood cells. Robbie was started on antibiotics, and two days later the suspected diagnosis was confirmed: our son had a severe case of osteomyelitis, or bone infection. Untreated, it could result in the loss of his leg.
To comfort Robbie during his treatments, Larry volunteered to spend nights at the hospital, and I stayed with our son during the day while Larry watched our other two young children at home. To add to our stress, consulting engineer work for Larry was scarce at that time, and our savings were soon depleted.
When Robbie failed to improve, the orthopedic surgeon said he would have to scrape the infection from the bone. The morning of the surgery, I dried my tears and went to the hospital to wait with my husband. Several hours later we learned that the operation had been successful, but more hospital treatment would be required. My relief was counterbalanced by a terrible weariness that left me feeling drained and weak.
An unexpected call came early that afternoon from a friend in the ward named Sandy Christiansen. “Can I come and stay with Robbie in the hospital while you and Larry go out this evening?” she asked.
My words of thanks were muffled by tears that threatened to spill over. I stuttered a grateful yes. Sandy’s call came when I was at an emotional and physical low. With sensitivity and perception, she realized that what Larry and I needed most was an evening away from the hospital. We returned from our date with renewed energy and optimism. Sandy accepted our thanks quietly and acted as though we had done her a favor by allowing her to spend four hours with our son.
The following week, Sandy continued displaying a quiet empathy for our needs. Rather than saying, “If there’s anything I can do, please let me know,” she made specific offers of help. She put herself in our position and asked herself what she would need in similar circumstances. Realizing that asking for help does not come easily to most people, she anticipated our needs and made it easy for us to accept her assistance.
I thought our troubles would be over when Robbie came home from the hospital, but our trials continued. Daily visits to the orthopedic surgeon, worry about medical bills, and health problems related to the baby I was carrying compounded to drain us of strength and faith.
Depressed feelings hovered frighteningly nearby. As time went on, Sandy listened to my hurts and complaints with genuine understanding. When our baby arrived two weeks early, she arranged meals and baby-sitting.
Sandy’s charity was manifested not so much through words as through quiet doing. Her acts of love exemplified the Savior’s words: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).—Jane M. Choate, Big Thompson Ward, Greeley Colorado Stake