Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cleaning a Bathroom

It takes three rags to clean a bathroom right.

Three rags. Three cleaners. Two brushes. One broom. And a roll of paper towels.
One rag and one cleaner for the toilet. 
One cleaner and one brush for the bowl.

I've been in her place before. And it's hard.

It doesn't matter if it's your mom or someone from the church congregation or your best friend. People coming in to "help." People bringing food and treats to "help." People running my errands and washing my sheets and cleaning my fridge and scrubbing my floors to "help."

It is a strange feeling to lay in your bed while you hear the vacuum running in one room and the washer running in another.

One rag and one cleaner for the sink. 
One cleaner and paper towels for the faucet and mirror.

My college roommate just completed her third round of chemo. And while I don't know about cancer, I do know about bed rest.

I spent seven months in bed during Micah's pregnancy. About five for Hyrum's, and about four for Eve's.  Sixteen total months where I couldn't clean or cook or shop for my family. Sixteen months when I needed a lot of help.

One rag and one brush and one cleaner for the shower. 
One cleaner and paper towels for the shower door.

As I scrubbed the corners of her tub and the track of her shower door, memories flooded my mind.

Times when others had encroached into my secrets--discovering against my will what brand of toilet paper I use, where I keep trial-size hotel toiletries, and how I fold shove my towels into the cupboard. At the time, my pride would often speak before common sense could check it.

"No. I don't need help picking kids up from school." (Of course I do. Why did I say that?)

"No. I'll figure something out for lunch. Don't worry about it." (I'm not supposed to leave bed. Why didn't I accept the offer?)

"No. Ironing my sheets is too much of a bother. Don't worry about it." (How did she know that the wrinkly sheets on my bed made me uncomfortable every time someone came to visit? Why didn't I tell her that? Why didn't I let her iron for me?)

One broom for a quick sweep.
Reuse the rag and the cleaner from the sink to scrub the floor.

How could I translate two shiny bathrooms to what I wished I could do for her? Grow her hair back. Take away her nausea. Restore her energy. Get her out of bed and out the door. Elevate her white cell count. Move her five years down the road to survivor status with a pink ribbon pinned to her disease-free chest.

Today, I scrubbed those two bathrooms to tell her I love her. That I'm praying for her and fighting with her.

Today, I scrubbed those two bathrooms for those few months in apartment 75 Maeser Hall when we shared a bathroom, a bedroom, and secrets and dreams of the future. When we cooked for each other and cleaned together.

Today, I scrubbed those two bathrooms for the rest of Maeser 75 who live too far away to do it. For Mel and Lisa and Paige and Anne.

Illness makes those on the outside feel. Feel powerless to control disease or circumstance. Feel inadequate in small efforts. Feel uncomfortable and unsure of what to say.

Today, I scrubbed those two bathrooms to control a small corner of her world. To say what's in my heart but can never make it past my lips.

Before rushing out the door to my next task on the list, I told Robin of past unaccepted offers for ironed sheets or quick runs to Taco Bell. I told her of dozens of days where others had served me and my pride had not allowed me to completely accept extended kindnesses.

As I climbed into my car, I knew that this would be the first time I leave her house with my cleaning supplies, three wet rags, two brushes, and small wad of paper towels in tow.

But it definitely will not be the last.

Just a quick note: This happens to be my 1500th blog post. I knew this landmark was coming for a while, and I didn't know if I would make a big deal/big announcement/big giveaway out of it or not. But then today happened, and I knew what to write. It's been a while since I've felt like that about a blog post.

Happy 1500th.


  1. Thank you, my friend. Thank you for taking care of her when she needs it, and probably won't ask for help. I'm glad that people were there for you when you needed help, and I'm glad you are there to help others when they need it. Thank you for being the kind and generous person that you are.
    Thank you for being there when I can't.

  2. That was a tender post. Congratulations on your blogevity

  3. Long-time reader, very rare commenter.
    This was beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experience, and for inspiring me today!

  4. Your friends are so blessed to have you in their corner. Thanks for inspiring me. I have always made meals for friends or picked up groceries in times of need...but I have never thought of digging in and helping around their house. Cleaning bathrooms and fighting cancer- they both suck.

  5. Thank you Jenny for serving me so kindly. I was in awe at my very clean bathroom (and home) this morning. I was also so very grateful to have friends who would come clean and cheer me up yesterday. You are the best! <3

  6. I love reading your blog, Best wishes to your friend.
    Donna, NY

  7. this is...well, it's so spot on! It's so much easier than to receive, and I am humbled either way. Thanks, Jen.

  8. Congrats on 1500. And it's a great post, at that.

    Prayers for your friend, who I know is feeling your love every day just now.