Sharon and I just got home from helping to set up for a funeral, taking place tomorrow.
A young man, from a family in our ward (LDS congregation) lost his battle with cancer on New Year's Eve. He was sixteen, and was sick for fifteen months. We never knew Brian, he's been out of view for most of the time that we've lived in the neighborhood. But we know his family, and they are loved. His father was our bishop (ecclesiastical leader) for the first year that we lived here.
Nearly a year ago, when Sharon was diagnosed with stomach cancer, this humble man, and his wonderful wife were some of the first (of many) to come to our home. They saw to it that my little family was cared for, when I nearly lacked the ability to put one foot in front of the other. They came to the hospital. In the midst of the most devastating trial of their lives, they were there for us.
And we were not the only ones. Anyone, and everyone, who suffered pain or loss or heartache or grief or want felt the compassion of this man, and his family. And then they watched the life slowly drift away from their son, and there was nothing they could do. Eventually, there was nothing anyone could do, and Brian, aware and prepared, left the embrace of his family and entered into the embrace of his Savior.
At a time like this, it's natural to want to help -- to somehow make it better, though you know you can't. You can't say the right word. You can't embrace anyone long enough. You can't make the pain go away. Grief is an inescapable, and inevitable part of life, and there are no short cuts through it. We cannot heal this family. God, and time, will see to that.
But we can make sure that the floors they walk on tomorrow are clean.
We can be sure the tables that they eat at are properly set, and beautifully arranged.
We can see to it that the chairs are set up, and that microphones are working and that hymnals are accessible, and that windows are cleaned.
We cannot change the path they must walk, but we can see that it is as smooth as possible.
It's the least we can do, but it's something.