Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In an Instant

It's been a roller coaster around here the past few days.

So much school for me.  So much that I can't keep up with all of my regular responsibilities.  So much that we haven't had many groceries in the house, meals have been much less amazing than normal (and I'm not a cook at all to begin with). So much that I've been pulling very late nights to finish assignments--why was that not a big deal the first time I was in college?

Everything else in life has taken a back seat--church responsibilities, kids, exercise, cleaning.  The cogs in my brain are constantly spinning and thinking and remembering, and I can barely slow them down long enough to measure laundry detergent.

In an instant, my brain came to a screeching halt.

As I looked at my phone on my way to choir practice Sunday morning, I found a text waiting for me: my friends, Gilberto and Laura Laparra, had been in a car/pedestrian accident the night before, and Laura was severely injured--so bad that it's still unknown if she will survive. For a news report about the accident, click here.

Laura flitted into my life over a decade ago.  She and her young family had moved to Arizona as refugees from Guatemala, and I was assigned to be her visiting teacher (for more information on what it means to be a visiting teacher in the LDS Church, click here).  I was a little hesitant about this assignment, since I knew nothing about her, her circumstances, or her culture.  I shouldn't have been.

 Laura's bubbly personality, love for life, and quick wit immediately bridged the gaps in our life experiences.  We became friends, and I would look forward to our formal visits in her home every month and seeing her at Church with her daughters.  I discovered so many similarities in us: Her devotion to her family and her faith. Her love of her home country (Costa Rica), and her willingness to embrace her new experiences in America.  She always brings a little spice and light to a room, and she has a talent for making people feel loved and important. People are drawn to her because they know that she sees through to their soul and she loves them anyway.  She's one of those rare people in life that everyone calls friend. Their family moved after a short time, and I would then only see Laura and her family occasionally.

A few years later, our family was in the Easter Pageant with the Laparra family and we all reconnected.  Her girls were older and I had added a few more kids to our family, but that bond of friendship was still strong. For the last few Easter seasons, we all became a family. Every night for three weeks, we would cluster our families together in a circle of metal chairs, dressed in Bible-era costume, and we drew close again as good friends do after not seeing each other for a while.  We watched our younger children pet the sheep or chase the spotlight or share snacks on the grass. We shared our frustration at how difficult it was to manage family life and still get everyone to the stage every night--making sure no piece of costume was lost and that every belly was filled before the lights went down. We laughed as our girls grew and began to notice boys (even as her girls began to notice my boys).  Most important, we knew that the story we helped share those three weeks every Easter season was teaching our families to love the Savior and to love those who came to watch the pageant. It bound us together in a way that other experiences never could.

Since that moment just two days ago when I read that text, my whole perspective has changed. My mind has been spinning and and thinking and remembering just like it had the whole week before, but different images now fill my mind.  Images of Laura holding a curly-headed baby who is now a curly-headed little girl.  Images of Laura surrounded by her three older girls, their heads close together, with giggles and chatter knitting them together.  Images of her playing with my little kids or asking my older kids what they are doing in school.  Images of her holding Gilberto's hand as they quietly went about serving and loving.

Gil and his family have been flooded with love since the accident.  My Facebook account is constantly updated with wishes for her recovery, pleas for prayers for their family, or stories of the kindnesses the Laparras have extended, and every message overflows with love for Laura and her family. I wonder if Laura knows how loved she is--how admired she is and how much she has influenced the lives of people around her.

It's made me a little sad that it always seems to take a crisis or a life-threatening accident or a death for people to express their true feelings for those around them.  I'm more guilty than most at keeping my gratitude for others inside.  Although the outcome is still unknown and all we can do is hope and pray for a miracle for Laura, I have made a personal commitment to change.

I vow to express my love for my friends and family more.  I want those around me to know how much I love them.  How much I need them.  How much they influence my life.  How much they have changed and molded who I am.

I vow to focus my energy a little more on people around me and how I can make their lives better.  I want to leave a mark here on this earth, one that shows how deeply I love the people in my life.

I vow to be more grateful for the little things and little joys and little moments, because these little things are truly the big things in life.

I wish I could tell Laura how much she means to me, but for now, that is impossible.  What I can do is act as she acts, and try to love as I know she loves--with an extra dose of kindness and an eye to serving in small ways wherever I can.

If you are interested in helping the family with their enormous medical expenses, you can click here for more information.


  1. Is she from Guatamala or Costa Rica? It doesn't matter ofcourse but it says both...

  2. Her husband is Guatemalan, she is Costa Rican. They fled Guatemala for the US and are now American citizens.

  3. Thank you for your comments about my sister-in-law and my brother, they're both beautiful inside and outside. And I think the same, I wish I could have told her more times how much I love her. I hope to do so soon.

  4. Prayers for their recovery. You just never know when life will take a drastic turn like this. Makes me want to appreciate my loved ones more

  5. Thank you so much for your post!
    I love Laura, she is my cousing.
    Love your post!!!