Fixing Everything
April 2002

“Fixing Everything,” Ensign, Apr. 2002, 56–57

Fixing Everything

It had been four years since I had come home for Easter, so I had looked forward to the break from school and the Easter activities with my family. We were in the kitchen fixing supper Friday night when I asked Mom about the family reunion she was organizing.

“Everyone wants to go back to the lake,” she told me as she chopped vegetables. “But during the six-hour car trip last year …” I looked up as the chopping ceased and her voice broke. Tears crept from the corners of her eyes, and her face crumpled. “I thought I was going to die. I really thought I was going to die.”

I didn’t know how to respond to my gentle, patient mother when she talked about the possibility of her death. I wanted to hug her until her shoulders stopped shaking. I wanted to tell her everything would be all right—the doctors would find out what this disease was and give her medicine and fix everything. But I couldn’t.

I had refused to think of death throughout the year of her sickness, even as I fasted and prayed and hoped. Still I watched her weaken and suffer. She wasn’t vocal in her suffering. She just worked harder because she was unable to sleep at night or even sit down. The pain clutched at her heart and made her shake whenever she tried to relax. But soon her suffering became visible in the dark circles around her eyes and the fatigue deep in her eyes themselves.

Discouragement soon accompanied the pain. After a full year of visiting doctors and undergoing tests, she was distressed when the specialists were unable to discover what was causing the intense pain around her heart. The test results all came back normal. Nothing was wrong, the doctors said.

But we knew the situation wasn’t normal. My mother did not normally pace the floor at night or stop in the middle of vacuuming to sob. And my mother, who had faced many types of pain in her life without ever complaining, did not normally talk about dying.

During the two days before Easter, I tried again to think of something I could do to help her. But her disease had left us all feeling powerless. Even my father, a doctor, could not fix the situation, in spite of his years of training, experience, and knowledge. I could not alleviate her burdens—she even wanted to do most housework herself, because resting made the pain worse. So she was always working, working to the point of exhaustion. And because there was so little we could do to relieve her suffering, she seemed to suffer alone.

We went to church on Easter morning. As I glanced at my mother sitting beside me, my thoughts wandered back to her high, cracked voice and the chilling sentence that had consumed me since Friday night—“I thought I was going to die.”

Suddenly my mother rose from the bench and made her way to the pulpit.

“On this Easter Sunday,” she began, “I want to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ’s Atonement. King Benjamin said that Christ ‘shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer” (Mosiah 3:7; emphasis added). Many of you may not know that I have been sick lately. The nights have been long”—her voice softened as she continued—“but not lonely. During the worst of it, the Savior has been my friend, my support. I testify that Jesus Christ knows our suffering because He experienced it—and more. He will lift us from our sorrows just as He lifted us from an eternal death.”

As my mom bore her testimony, a new picture of suffering replaced my former preoccupation with my mother and myself. It was a picture of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane, full of such anguish that He bled from every pore as He suffered for all, including my mother’s physical agony and my own emotional pain.

I realized then that I did not need to tell my mother that it would be OK. We couldn’t fix everything, but she was comforted by her knowledge that the Savior already had.

  • Catherine Matthews Pavia is a member of the Oxford Ward, Springfield Massachusetts Stake.