I know the importance of reaching out to someone who is alone. And I know how comforting hug can be. As the recipient of both yesterday , I was so grateful for those two small acts of kindness.
Let me back up.
In January of this year, Brad Wilcox asked if I would be available to meet Michelle Corpuz – a dear friend of his who was dying of breast cancer. I agreed and on February 4th I had the privilege of meeting Michelle, her two daughters and her parents, Omar and Beatriz Canals. At the center and heart of our hour-long conversation was the Plan of Salvation and Michelle’s faith-filled testimony that God is in control. I felt gratitude for having met a new friend and stellar daughter of God.
Michelle’s health declined and on March 27th, she graduated from this life. Her father, Omar, emailed and asked if I would sing at Michelle’s funeral. The opportunity to be associated with the Canal/Corpuz family again outweighed my concerns about the emotional challenge of singing at a funeral, and I said, “Yes.”
Yesterday morning I sat at the piano in my living room and “practiced” singing He’ll Carry You, the song Michelle’s family requested. My fingers agreed to play the keys of the piano, but my voice was weak and filled with emotion. I wondered how I could possibly sing without crying. I knelt and asked the Lord to bless my voice with strength and my heart with the power to sing so their family could hear the pure message of that song unimpeded by my tender feelings.
My eternally supportive husband offered to come with me, but three of our daughters had dentist appointments. I would have loved his company and support, but he was needed more on the home front. So I went to the funeral service alone.
I can only imagine how awkward I appeared standing in the hallway, waiting to enter the viewing. Michelle’s sister-in-law, Jenny, saw me and introduced herself. Her smile was wide and beautiful – instantly putting me at ease. She began a conversation and led me into the room where the family was gathered. (They had invited me to join the family prayer.) Jenny stayed and talked to me and each sentence chased away the feeling of being surrounded by strangers. Suddenly, I had a friend.
A few minutes later, Brad and Debi Wilcox arrived. While Jenny resumed her family responsibilities, I talked with the Wilcox’s. As I watched tears flow down the cheeks of Michelle’s family, my own began to fall. It was difficult to contain the feelings of empathy and compassion. The family prayer began and I felt Debi’s arm reach around me. She kept it there until the “amen.” It brought me so much comfort and I felt the strength to do what I had come to do.
The funeral service was lovelier than I have words to describe. Omar gave the most beautiful Elder-Holland-like sermon I have heard. The family repeatedly expressed gratitude for the musical number and my heart swelled with the joy of service.
When I look back on the experience, among several tender mercies, I will remember those two simple acts of service and the joy it brought me. Next time I see someone who is alone in a crowd, I pray I’ll have the courage to smile and introduce myself. And when the moment arises that someone needs me to put my arm around them, I will remember and be ready.
Blog to you soon,