90963_000_005Love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12).
“Oh, Mom,” Melissa moaned, “I already have enough friends!”
“But, Melissa, it’s just two weekends a month,” Mom pleaded, “and Vernika is new in the Church and so lonely. Her dad died in a car accident just last September—you remember the day that the fog hung so low and thick that it never lifted. And her little brother is so sick that her mom needs to spend every minute with him. If they could afford a nurse, it might be different.”
Melissa nodded. Of course she felt sorry for Vernika, but it didn’t change the fact that she already had enough friends. “Why can’t Vernika’s grandparents take her to church?”
Mom smiled, “Darling, Vernika’s grandparents aren’t members. Besides, they live too far away. This way Vernika can walk home with you after school on Friday and go to the Merrie Miss activities Saturday mornings and to sacrament meeting and Primary on Sundays.”
Just then there was a crash in the living room, and two-year-old Justin squealed in delight. The twins, Johnny and Jase, toppled over each other as they raced up the stairs, each claiming that he had nothing to do with whatever just happened. Melissa moaned again.
“Anyway,” Mom sighed as she hurried out of the room, “with this house full of boys, it will be nice to have another girl around.”
Friday came, and Melissa tried to keep her distance while Vernika smiled and skipped rocks with the twins all the way home from school. Well, at least Johnny and Jase will have a good weekend, Melissa thought.
Then came the moment Melissa was dreading. She would have to share her beautiful room, the only spot in all the world of her very own, with someone who wasn’t even her friend. When she opened the door, Vernika’s whole face lit up. It was as sunny as the yellow room. “I’ve never seen a room this pretty before,” Vernika gasped. “You must feel like a princess beneath such a beautiful flowered quilt!”
“Well, I guess we’ll both be princesses tonight,” Melissa replied coolly, “because you’ll be sleeping in here with me.”
“Oh. Then I shall rename you the ‘Princess of the Yellow Quilt’ and pretend that I’m a princess from a faraway land who has come to visit. I’ll tell you about my deeds of sorrow and high adventure, while you tell me about Jase, Johnny, and Justin, your three little jesters.”
In spite of herself, Melissa giggled and entered into an evening of bright imagination. As they said their prayers that night, Melissa overheard Vernika thank Heavenly Father for helping her find a friend at last. Maybe Vernika isn’t so bad, after all, Melissa thought.
Two months passed. It was a cold, windy Friday, and nothing was going right. The Merrie Miss activity had been canceled, and Vernika had to stay home to help with her sick baby brother. To top it off, Johnny, Jase, and Justin were pestier than ever and had just barged noisily into her room.
“Can’t you read? It says ‘No boys allowed!’” Melissa yelled as she picked up a sign that had fallen on the floor and tacked it up again on her bedroom door.
“We just wanted to borrow your crayons,” Johnny complained as he walked out of the room as slowly as was humanly possible.
Melissa thought about how the boys never seemed so terrible when Vernika was there. Melissa smiled, remembering the stories from the Book of Mormon storybook that Vernika had told the boys two weeks ago. The boys had been wide-eyed and pin-dropping quiet as Vernika had ended each story, then folded her arms and declared, “And the best thing is that it’s true!”
That night, while Melissa was sleeping, she vaguely heard the telephone ring and then the truck pull out of the driveway. A couple hours later, Melissa awoke to the sound of muffled sobs. There was Vernika rocking back and forth on the edge of the bed, tears streaming down her cheeks!
“I’m sorry I woke you,” Vernika quavered. “Your daddy brought me here after they took my brother to the hospital. He can hardly breathe. Oh, Melissa, what if Henry dies, like Daddy did?” Vernika sobbed.
Melissa couldn’t find words as she thought about her own little brothers. They did get on her nerves, but how upset she would be if anything really bad ever happened to them. She wrapped her beloved, yellow quilt around Vernika’s shoulders and held her hand. They sat quietly for a long time as Vernika’s tears slowly subsided.
“Let’s say a prayer,” Melissa finally whispered, adding, “I’ll offer it.” She prayed as she had never prayed before, asking Heavenly Father to help Henry get better. She prayed for Vernika to remember that Heavenly Father and Jesus loved her and were close by. After the prayer, Melissa noticed that Vernika had stopped crying. Silently the girls curled up under the yellow quilt as a still sleepiness closed their eyes.
The next morning the rain came down in icy sheets as the temperature dropped. Then the phone lines went dead, and the electric power went out. Everyone looked like Eskimos as they wore their winter coats around the house, trying to keep warm. Daddy told Vernika that he and the bishop had given her baby brother a blessing last night. “Try not to worry,” he said as he lit a fire in the fireplace. “The hospital has an emergency generator for electricity.”
That evening he brought all the sleeping bags into the living room. With no heater, everyone would sleep around the fireplace—just like the pioneers. Johnny, Jase, and Justin let out shouts of glee. Then Daddy took out his Book of Mormon and read 3 Nephi 17 [3 Ne. 17], which told about Jesus healing the Nephites and blessing the children. It also told of Jesus’ weeping out of love for the people. Melissa saw tears on Vernika’s cheeks once again—but this time they weren’t frightened, panic-filled tears. They were the kind of tears Melissa had seen in people’s eyes during fast and testimony meeting.
Morning came, and Daddy woke everyone up. “I have something to show you,” he said as he took Melissa and Vernika down the hallway and opened the front door. Sunlight splashed in, and the girls gasped in wonder. They had never seen the world after an ice storm before. Every tiny branch of the great oak tree and every solitary needle on each evergreen was coated in its own case of smooth, shimmering ice. The day glistened as though everything in it was made of diamonds!
“Oh! It’s like magic!” exclaimed Vernika.
“Yes,” Daddy said. “It’s strange how sometimes the most terrible weather yields the greatest beauty. And, Vernika,” Daddy added, grinning, “your mom called and said that Henry is breathing easily and is out of danger.”
Vernika shouted with joy and danced out onto the porch and all around it.
“Vernika, I’m going to rename you the ‘Dancing Princess of the Diamond Morning,’” Melissa declared, beaming.