Written Sunday, May 25, 2014:
In this moment, I just realized I have an opportunity to better understand what partaking of the sacrament can (and should) mean to me--as I sit in this Children's Hospital and watch my daughter struggle to breathe.
For many terrifying, never-ending minutes this morning, Charlotte's eyes closed and she became completely unresponsive. Thankfully, although her breathing was labored she was still breathing. Yet, she would not respond to voices or people rubbing her body in an effort for her to stir. Not even when nurses sat her up did she open her eyes. Not any inkling of acknowledgment that she was being pestered, poked, prodded. Her body was limp and she would not wake up. Before I knew what was happening, three doctors and several nurses including a respiratory therapist were in the room all working together to help Charlotte. They crowded around her bed and I worried that my desire to be close to my daughter was actually getting in the way. Panic begin to invade my heart as I knew Charlotte was in trouble and needed help. I also felt completely useless as there was obviously nothing I could do, aside from calling to her with a trembling voice. "Charli, wake up. Charli, open your eyes and look at Mama." Doctors and nurses rattled stats back and forth, and even though I could tell they were concerned almost as much as I was, they seemed to somehow have order in the chaos of the moment. The respiratory therapist finally stated loudly that they should not delay any further the suction treatment as her respiratory rate was becoming more labored despite her limp composure. Each medical professional gave their concurrent permission and the respiratory therapist began to suction Charlotte's lungs.
I think under normal circumstances I'd have fought back feelings of Mama Tiger as the catheter was threaded down my child's throat, and the sounds of sickening mucus filled the room. However, in this case I was incredibly thankful as this unpleasant intrusion seemed to snap her from her lethargic state. Her eyes opened wide in panicked surprise and she began to cry. What relief filled all our hearts! Obviously, she was frightened to suddenly see so many people over her. Standing at the foot of her bed, I began to talk to her and told her: "Mommy's right here. I'm right here. Mama stays with Charli. It's going to be okay." Knowing if she looked at me I needed to appear strong and unafraid, I fought everything within me that wanted to crumple to the floor in a sobbing mess. I knew seeing me like that would only alarm her more, so I took deep breath and held it in.
Later, once she was stable and out of immediate danger, the exhaustion from three sleepless nights and the stress of the situation hit me. Brett came through the door twenty minutes later and of course, seeing my rock, my best friend -- all I could do was let him hold me as it all came out. While he held me and also cried over his beautiful girl, I noticed out in the hallway two priesthood brethren bringing the Sacrament to hospital patients. Earlier in the day, I'd wanted to attend the hospital LDS services at 10:30. But as the hour drew closer, Charlotte was struggling more and more, and naturally I felt I could not leave her. I had been disappointed not to attend, since I recognized that at this particular time I was more than ever in need of the strength receivable from renewing heavenly covenants. Seeing these men, I asked Brett to wave them in.
I expressed my desire to partake of the sacrament and they kindly began to prepare, asking the nurse if she had a plate available for them to use. She did not, and so they settled for a white napkin. Somehow that seemed more appropriate -- as though viewing the offering on clean, white "linen" more naturally resembled what our Savior would have offered, had He been there in person. Foolishly thinking I had my tears under control, my eyes betrayed me and I wept through the prayers that were made solely on my behalf that Sunday afternoon. I was not alone--even the nurse cried with me as she held onto my baby's little fingers.
Something stirred within me to see a single piece of bread resting on a white napkin in the palm of the brother's hand, the sacrament cup held by the other brother. To hear the sacrament prayers being said over one solitary serving at this symbolic partaking emphasized to me the importance of "The One". The significance that we have to our Father in Heaven. We ARE "the one" that He leaves the ninety-and-nine for. WE each are "the one" that young Priesthood holders pray for each Sunday.
Partaking of that ONE piece of bread, and internalizing that ONE cup of water confirmed in my heart that the Sacrament Ordinance is truly of God. It is FROM Him, FOR Us. It is for all of His children, but more importantly it is for us individually. A witness of His love, His sacrifice, and His companionship came into my heart. I drew strength from hearing those sacred prayers, knowing I could repent of the mistakes I make and in return always have His spirit to be with me, which I needed so much more that day than usual. It was a beautiful experience born from a morning filled with anxious, heartfelt pleading that my baby would be watched over. She was, and so, I discovered, was I.