“At Jessica’s Baptism,” Friend, Apr. 2000, 12
Jessica gazed at her reflection in the mirror. She felt very grown-up. Nana (her grandmother) had made her a new Sunday dress for her baptism this week. It was a beautiful dress with daisies and a green sash. The sleeves reached to her elbows and were trimmed with the same delicate lace that Nana had sewn on the hem. It looked like a dress from a fancy department store. Nobody would ever know the material came from a dress Jessica’s mother wore at a senior dance! That was what made Jessica feel so grown-up.
She sat on the edge of Nana’s bed and tried to remember her mother. Sometimes it was awfully hard! She looked at her family’s last picture on Nana’s dresser. Mommy and Daddy were posing with a wheelbarrow full of vegetables from Poppy’s garden. They had put four-year-old Jessica at the top of the heap. They were laughing at Jessica because she had peeled a small ear of corn and was eating it.
The memory of that day was like a dream, but the pain of it was still sharp four years later. After everyone had posed for pictures, they had gone in to clean up. They were tired from working in the garden all day. Nana had decided to take a nap.
Poppy and Daddy walked down to the barn to check a sick calf.
Mommy said that she was going to make a salad and grill hamburgers for supper. First, she would need to buy some hamburger buns at the market in town. Jessica asked Mommy if she could go with her to the store. Her mother smiled and said, “Sure, sweetie!” She strapped her daughter into her car seat. Mommy drove down the dusty, unpaved road to town.
They had not gone far, when a dog ran in front of their car. Mommy swerved to avoid the animal and ran the car into a tree. Jessica was unharmed, but her mother was hurt. A passing motorist stopped, put them into the back of his station wagon, and took them to the hospital.
Jessica remembered the prayer her mother whispered over and over as they bumped along the dirt road in the back of the stranger’s station wagon: “Heavenly Father, take care of my family.” Then, after they arrived at the hospital emergency, Mommy spoke once more before they separated mother and daughter—“Jessica, I love you.” Jessica watched them put her mother on a bed and take her away.
Jessica did not remember much about her overnight stay in the hospital. She did remember that her mother did not go home when Nana and Poppy picked her up. Daddy said Mommy fell asleep and never awakened. He told his little girl that Mommy went to live with Heavenly Father.
The happiness Jessica had enjoyed a few moments ago slowly seeped away, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. She missed her mother so much! If only Mommy could see how pretty she looked.
It would be so nice if Mommy could be at her baptism.
Jessica felt prompted to kneel beside Nana’s big bed. She folded her arms and began to pray. “Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for blessing me with a neat dad. And I thank Thee for Nana and Poppy. I love them! But Heavenly Father, I miss my mom. I wish she could be here for my baptism on Saturday. Sometimes it is hard not having a mom like my friends. …” She began to cry.
A calm feeling crept into her. She lifted her head, remembering when her family had been sealed in the temple shortly before her mother died. Because they were sealed, Daddy said, they were a family for eternity. He said that even though Mommy was no longer with them on earth, she was waiting for them in the spirit world. He said that Mommy could see their family and still loved them. So, Jessica thought now, Mommy will be at my baptism in her own way.
Once more the eight-year-old stood to look at herself in the full-length mirror. This time her grin grew wide as she understood what it meant to be an eternal family. When she wore her new dress this Sunday, Jessica would feel very close to her mother.