Shining moments: Serving until the end

While living in Maryland with my husband and three children, I had an experience that I will not soon forget. It was a lesson in service and the pure love of Christ.

I had just suffered a miscarriage in the second trimester. It was the second loss in 11 months. In both cases the baby died for some unknown reason and my labor had to be induced. I felt hurt and confused. My befuddled brain continually questioned and wanted to know why. Not even the doctors had answers.During this time of pain, our family was surrounded by love and support. Ward members brought in food. Family members sent flowers and gave their love over the phone. Often feeling the need to console myself in private, I would close myself in my bedroom, leaving my husband to express our appreciation for the loving service.

On one of my few ventures downstairs, I saw one of our neighbors making her way across the lawn with her arms laden with boxes of fried chicken. I couldn't believe that she was actually coming to our house until she was walking up our steps. In some surprise, I opened the door for her. She told me that she was sorry for our loss and also apologized that she had been unable to cook a meal, so she had bought a chicken dinner instead. I thanked her for her kindness and felt truly humbled by her visit.

This woman's name was Patricia Schwendig, and what set her apart from the other beautiful people who had brought their love and food to our door was that Patricia was in the last stages of leukemia. She had difficulty with even small tasks and was by this time completely blind in one eye. I felt so humbled that in her pain she would take the time to care for and reach out to me.

Some weeks later I felt the need to take some cookies to her door and try to give her some of the love she had left with me. At my persistent knocking, her husband finally came to the door and, with a look of surprise, took the cookies from my outstretched hands. He told me Patricia was in the hospital and heavily medicated. About a week later, I was informed of her death. After five years of suffering, her pain had at last ended and I knew that she was at peace. I will never forget this beautiful person who reached out to me, offering love and comfort, though her own pain far exceeded my own.

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