Boy, am I glad I didn’t know what was coming! I might have decided to pull the covers up over my head and hide out for a while.
But there I was, Mike Tucker, standing unknowing in front of my bedroom mirror, adjusting my collar and giving my hair another quick once-over.
Suddenly there was a loud pounding on the door, and in barged my sister, Jill.
“Come on, curly locks,” she teased. “Your ride is here. Stop messing with your precious hair and get a move on.”
“You’re just jealous,” I said with admirable restraint.
Grabbing my jacket and the bag of munchies, I checked out with my parents, then hustled down to Brother Moore’s car.
Brother Moore is this real neat guy who moved into our ward a few months ago. He has a great grin, a wacky sense of humor, and a ton of patience, so naturally they made him our Primary teacher. It was his idea to drag the whole class over to the Conlins’ house for a little party that late-August night.
Matt Conlin is this gutsy classmate who’s been struggling with cancer and chemotherapy. Over the past year, he’d gotten thinner, weaker, and balder; but he always has a smile or a funny story whenever you see him.
We were there that night to celebrate the fact that he was in remission and could finally go back to school. He was a bit self-conscious about it, so we laughed it up and teased him about all the girls he was going to impress with his newfangled hairstyle.
“Yeah, it’s different all right,” he answered with a lopsided grin. “But if it’s so wonderful, how come you guys haven’t joined me?”
We were still laughing about it when we got back into the car to leave.
“You know, boys,” Brother Moore said, settling onto the front seat, “Matt’s putting on a brave front, but he’s really going to need our support, especially the first day he goes back to school.” He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel a few seconds. “Let’s do something really special for Matt,” he said with enthusiasm. “Come on—anybody have any great ideas?”
We all looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. You had to be careful when Brother Moore got excited about something!
“No ideas now, huh? Well, you know what I always say—when in doubt, pray about it.”
So right then and there we said a prayer to help us all think of something special we could do for Matt to make his first day back at school easier.
“Now, boys,” Brother Moore added as he eased out into traffic, “when you pray for something, you have to be willing to listen for an answer. I want each of you to go home and listen for your own answer, OK?”
He made it sound so easy that I actually expected to wake up the next morning and find that the answer had been deposited in my brain overnight.
Unfortunately the next morning nothing was there that hadn’t been there before. By the next night I was pacing nervously back and forth in front of my bed, going over all the conversations I’d ever had with Matt, looking for a clue. The trouble was that I couldn’t remember him ever asking anybody for anything. I thought back to our party and his joking about the things that were really worrying him.
Immediately a totally outrageous and not very welcome idea popped into my head. No, no, I argued with myself, Matt was only joking. He’d never expect anyone to … I’ll sleep on it, I reasoned. By morning the “real” answer will come to me.
But three more days went by, and I decided that enough was enough! I didn’t like the answer I’d gotten, but it was the only one I’d gotten and it kept sneaking back into my head. So on the afternoon before school started, I mustered up as much courage as I could and went around the corner to visit a barbershop.
What happened when our Primary class went to pick up Matt for school the next day was extra special. Eddy Kowalski, the kid who got a C- in English last year, wrote one of the best poems I’ve ever read in my life. And Todd Stott and Larry King got permission from the principal to carry Matt’s books and lunch tray because he was still kind of weak. Every one of us had something special to share with Matt that day, and it was really super!
Yep, life is full of surprises. I wouldn’t have wanted to know that I’d end up bald on the first day of school. But it’s sure nice to know that the answers are there, right where you need them, just around the corner.