A ‘Chance’ Meeting

    “A ‘Chance’ Meeting,” Ensign, Feb. 2005, 68–69

    A “Chance” Meeting

    It was a gray, rainy day—very unusual for sunny southern California. My husband and I had just finished a full-to-overflowing endowment session as part of our stake temple day. My husband braved the driving rain to get the car while I waited inside the temple’s door.

    As I quietly chatted with a member of my ward, a sister I did not recognize approached us. She was dripping wet, and it appeared she had been crying. She explained that she had inadvertently left her vehicle’s headlights on and was now unable to start the car. She recognized us from the temple session—she was the only patron in that session not from our stake—and wondered if we had battery jumper cables she could borrow.

    As we talked she began looking intently at me and finally asked, “Aren’t you Cathy West?” (Names have been changed.)

    Surprised, I exclaimed, “That was my maiden name!”

    “I’m Diane Cody Hart,” she replied, “Anne Cody’s little sister.”

    Anne Cody—the name struck me like a bolt of lightning. I had not seen Anne for years. Three decades before and a thousand miles away, Anne had been my childhood friend—and my link to the Church. My mother and sisters and I were members of the Church, but my father was not. No one in my family was active. Anne quietly and consistently took me with her to church and Young Women and included me in Church activities. During those crucial years I remained active more because of Anne’s friendship than because of my own testimony of the gospel.

    That tenuous connection to the Church sustained me through my parents’ divorce. It inspired me to counsel my heartbroken father to start attending church and to listen to the missionary discussions. It was strengthened as my father joined the Church and my parents remarried. It was my guide through the turbulent teenage years.

    Through it all Anne remained my friend and example. When she decided to go to Brigham Young University, I didn’t want to be left behind, so I went too. During that time good friends and full participation in the programs of the Church helped my testimony mature.

    Then during my sophomore year, an unexpected tragedy befell my family. My oldest sister, who had suffered from emotional problems for years, took her own life. Our newly found testimonies comforted us through those difficult days.

    I subsequently met a returned missionary and planned a temple marriage. The day before my wedding, my parents received their endowments, and we—my deceased sister included by proxy—were sealed as a family. Anne’s quiet influence had brought the blessings of the temple not only to me but to my family as well.

    I embraced Diane and expressed my appreciation for her sister’s friendship and example. When my husband arrived with the car, he reported that we had no jumper cables but insisted that Diane accompany us to a nearby mall to buy a set.

    Diane and I waited in the car while my husband went inside to search for jumper cables. I asked Diane about her family, and she replied that they had all attended simultaneous temple sessions that evening—Anne in Chicago, Diane in San Diego, and their parents in Reno—while sacred temple ordinances were performed by proxy for her younger brother, who had died the previous year. Diane had come to the temple alone to participate in the special session while her husband took care of their three children.

    I squeezed Diane’s hand and asked how her brother had died. She began to weep and whispered that her brother—to whom she had been very close—had taken his own life. Through her tears Diane related how alone she had felt, even in the crowded endowment session, as she thought of the circumstances of her brother’s death.

    I could see the Lord’s hand in bringing the two of us together that evening. To the gentle patter of the rain on the roof of the car, I told her about my sister’s suicide many years earlier and my family’s struggle to understand and cope. I held her hand and expressed my understanding and empathy until my husband arrived a short time later with jumper cables.

    We returned to the temple, and my husband started Diane’s car. Before she drove away, Diane and I embraced as the rain fell softly upon us. “I don’t feel alone anymore,” she whispered.

    As Diane disappeared into the rain, I marveled at Heavenly Father’s goodness. He had brought me together with one of His daughters who needed comfort I was uniquely prepared to provide. And He had granted me a priceless opportunity to repay in some small way the special service a dear friend had given me 30 years before.