Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Temporal Death

Her home was nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac surrounded by tall green leafed cottonwood trees that made the neighborhood cool with the shade it cast in the hot July sun. As I entered her living room I was welcomed by the familiar sounds of a small “yap, yap” as her pocket sized pooch alerted excitedly of an intruder. I bent down and outstretched my hand which was met with a cold wet nose and small puffs of air as the canine sniffed my fingers, wagging its tail in approval. Her fur was well groomed and soft to the touch as I ran my fingers aggressively along her sides, scratching back and forth as I went.
Her home was well decorated with a touch of classy grace that made it obvious the owner was an elderly person. White furniture with beautiful trim and elegant pillows sat in esthetically pleasing arrangements. Prints of Monet, Kandinsky and Van Gogh hung from the walls adorned with striking trim that brought the paintings to life. I greatly enjoyed the view I had every time I entered her home but as much as I wanted to, I never took the time to sit and enjoy the beauty it provided.
As I entered the room at the far end of the home and saw the mountain of cloud like blankets and pillows pitched snuggly around the sleeping woman on the bed and I noticed a calm like feeling I had never before experienced. Betty was a sickly arthritic woman whose skeleton like body was quickly passing through the final stages of life. As I neared her bed side and looked at her emaciated face and realized that calm I felt was the spirit in great abundance preparing to carry her soul to her eternal home.
Although I was not instructed to do so, I knew that Betty loved taking warm bubble baths. The heat allowed for a temporary relief from the pain of her swollen joints and shriveling body. Although Betty could not speak I knew she enjoyed her baths because of the joyful look in her eyes as the warm water washed over her saggy skin. She never spoke the words “thank you” but she didn’t need to because the cheery look on her face as she soaked in the tub said it all.
That morning I contemplated not giving her a bath, knowing that moving her too much might cause more distress to her weakened state and quicken the process of death, but then I felt her calm spirit whisper to me, reminding me of the joy she felt as she soaked in the tub. I quickly undressed her and as was customary, picked her up in my arms and carried her from the bed to the bath.
As I placed her in the warm water, I saw a glimmer of light come over her face as she gained a slight reprieve of pain. She looked up at me as I washed her body; she stretched her long aged fingers, reaching for my hand. As she held it she looked up at me and in an almost inaudible voice whispered “thank you”.
Betty was a perfectionist and loved getting dressed up. Her daughters told me on numerous occasions that she would never leave the house unless every hair on her head was perfect.  I knew that this would be the last time she would get dressed in this mortal life so I took care in changing her into an outfit I knew she would enjoy wearing in public and even assisted as he daughters put rollers in her hair and applied a little makeup. She was incoherent through most of the process, being exhausted spending the little energy she had being moved around.
That day, the entire time I was with her I felt a closeness to the spirit that was overpowering. As I picked her up and laid her in her  bed I knew that this day would be the end of her mortal sojourn. I looked at her one last time and saw the form of a woman who had devoted her life to the service of others. Her body was left old and decrepit, but her soul was strong as it gained closeness with her eternal companion that had been missing for forty years.

This experience was the first time I gave service to someone in their dying days. I became very close to Betty and grieved for a moment of her passing but was comforted with the knowledge that I would see her again. I knew that there is a merciful plan prepared by the great creator who provided an infinite atonement in by which the death we experience on this earth merely a temporal death of which all will be delivered to live again.


  1. Beautiful. Brings tears beautiful. I could really tell how much you loved her and wanted to serve her. You could explain a little more interactions in the past that made you love her so much. All I really know about her is that she loved baths and liked to dress up and served others. But how did she serve others? How do you know? How did she serve you or what did you learn when you were with her? I also think a powerful closing would just be the "but was comforted with the knowledge that I would see her again."

  2. Thanks for the pointers Hailey. This kind of writing is new to me so I will take any tips you can give

  3. I really liked this! Going from the first raw draft and bullet points to this expresses really well the same feelings that were in those bullet points. I like how you expressed your knowledge that you would see her again, but maybe you can tie the book of mormon or a story from it in there somehow. Great essay.