“Heidi Loves the Sacrament,” Friend, Sept. 1996, 34
My sister Heidi loves the sacrament. That always impresses me because she doesn’t like to eat bread or drink water. Heidi was born with a serious physical problem called cerebral palsy. She can’t hear or talk. She can’t sit up alone or walk. She can only use her hands very awkwardly.
Her mouth and stomach muscles are so tight that eating hurts, and she has hated it every since I can remember. She gets fed through a tube in her stomach while she sleeps at night.
We offer her food when we’re eating, but nine times out of ten she will shake her head no and tightly shut her mouth. Even on her birthdays, when we have her favorite—cheesecake—she usually refuses to eat it. Mom will help her hold a spoon and scoop up some of the cheesecake. Heidi smiles the whole time. But when Mom tries to get it to her mouth, Heidi frowns and pushes the spoon toward Mom’s mouth and feeds her the cheesecake instead.
But in Heidi’s twelve years of life, I have never once seen her frown or close her mouth to the sacrament. We’ve tried giving her little pieces of bread and sips of water at other times, but she’ll never take them.
It has taken me a while to figure out this mystery, but I think I finally have. Heidi likes the sacrament because it isn’t just food. Since she can’t talk, it’s hard for me to know how much she knows about Jesus Christ. I don’t know if she understands that He was born in a stable or that He died on the cross. I guess for Heidi that really doesn’t matter. What is important for her to know about Jesus Christ, Heidi understands. She knows she needs this bread and water in her life. I wish you could see her smile when she takes the sacrament.
I don’t take the sacrament for granted, thanks to my sister Heidi. I know I need it too.
Note: Shortly after this story was written, Heidi died from complications due to her cerebral palsy. The way she attempted to take the sacrament was a miracle to all around her, and we wanted to share it with you.