Neighborhood Sad

This past Sunday at church, the bishop announced from the pulpit that the son of a family in the ward was playing soccer last week and suddenly collapsed. The boy’s family took him to the hospital. The bishop said if anyone spoke Spanish in the ward, the family would appreciate a visit.

Wednesday nights, I go out with the Relief Society presidency to visit women who have recently moved into the ward. We introduce ourselves to these ladies, and we welcome them to the ward and reassure them of our desire to be their friends.

Tonight, while we were getting into the Relief Society president’s car to make some visits, the second counselor reminded me of the bishop’s announcement and said she received an email saying that the boy had passed away. She also said that because the family had spent so much time at the hospital looking after their son, both of the parents lost their jobs. It’s bad enough to have bills you can’t pay for, but for that to add another layer to a pile of grief and sorrow just breaks my heart.

The boy was 11 years old. It’s so much harder to get through sadness without answers or explanation. But I guess that the family isn’t really thinking about getting through it right now so much as feeling it. Feeling helpless, alone, crushed. Feeling angry, lost, numb.

I want to do something for the family, and going to the funeral doesn’t even seem an earnest effort at anything. Donate for the funeral or to a fund until parents can find work? Make them dinner? I want to show support.¬†There has to be something more, something demonstrative, something that really matters. I’ll have to pray and ask for inspiration, an outlet for compassion or a way stretch out a hand; I need to see how One knows exactly what this family is feeling right now would do.

1955-2009

The Copelands are a prominent family in the church community in these parts, as are the Atkinses. The Jenkins family are also well-known, as are the Newtons. Anyone who has been a member for any length of time in any of the Jacksonville stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the past 50 years has heard of these families. These families know each other. They grew up together; their kids went to the same school and church activities. They intersect with other families and strengthen their lines. Posterity continue to branch out over the region and across state or country boundaries.¬† They’re legends. They’re saints. Our respect for them runs deep.

Today, we acknowledge one gone. A Newton. She left us on Thursday, suddenly.

I walked into a nearly packed chapel this morning. The building itself seemed to heave a sigh. We all were trying to understand how before Thursday she was with us, and now, she is without us for a season.

It was jarring to hear the obituary and wonder what it is like to be survived by your parents; to wonder if the parents at all question the fairness of this circumstance.

The front of the printed program indicates she’s only 10 days older than my mother.

My brother and I grew up with her kids. My mom taught her son in Primary. I’ve always admired her family, her temperament, her countenance and outlook on life. She has definitely helped keep the Newton legend alive.

We strive to rejoice constantly in God’s plan for us. We’ll see our loved ones again; we can be with our families forever. It truly is comforting to have that knowledge.

But, it certainly is okay to mourn her absence.

We miss you, Vicki.