Helping Jennifer


They friends do stand by thee (D&C 121:9).

“Your dad and I need to talk to you about something serious. Could you come sit on the couch?” Mom asked.

Boy, did I get nervous, because “something serious” always meant bad news. But I couldn’t remember doing anything bad enough to make Mom and Dad look so unhappy.

My hands were sweaty, and it seemed like forever before Mom finally started to talk. She sounded like she was going to cry. “I don’t know how else to say this,” she said. “Jennifer’s dad died last night.”

Died? Jennifer’s dad died? I looked over at my dad. How could Jennifer’s dad be gone?

“His heart just stopped,” Dad said, quietly. “Even though Jennifer knows she’ll be with her dad again one day, she’ll need your love and friendship now, more than ever.”

I went to my room to be alone. Jennifer was my best friend. What was she feeling? How could I possibly help her? I couldn’t imagine how sad I’d be if my dad died. I knelt down and asked Heavenly Father to guide me. Then I called Jennifer. “Hi, how are you doing?”

“OK.” She didn’t sound OK to me. “I’m packing my stuff. Mom and I are flying to Washington. That’s where … where the funeral will be. Dad’s from there.”

“Could I feed Soots for you while you’re gone?”

“Thanks, but Mom left a key with Sister Hawley, and she said she’d feed him.”

“When will you be back?”

“Monday night—late, I think.”

I didn’t know what else to say but that I was sorry. Then I hung up.

I had until Monday to find a way to help Jennifer. I got some books, stickers, a teddy bear, and some of her favorite candy and put them into a basket. Then I wrote her a letter. I told her all the things that were too hard to tell her on the telephone. I told her how much I loved her and that she could share my dad. I drew balloons across the top of the letter and put it into the basket. Mom helped me wrap the basket in cellophane, and I put a big pink bow on top.

I wished I could do more. Finally I thought of something. I ran to the phone and called Sister Allred, our Primary president.

On Sunday, the Primary worked together to make a card on a big piece of paper. Everyone wrote a note and drew a picture for Jennifer. They sure did a great job!

Monday afternoon, Sister Hawley opened Jennifer’s house for Sister Allred and me. We hung the card in Jennifer’s living room, and I put the basket beside it.

I thought about Jennifer as I took a last look at the room. At least she’ll know we care, I thought. I felt peaceful as I went home.

Tuesday, Jennifer still wasn’t back at school, so after school I went over to her house. When she opened the door, I gave her a big hug. She didn’t seem to want me to let go. Jennifer talked about the funeral and her dad for a long time. I just listened.

“Thanks for the basket and the letter,” she said. “It was really nice.”

“I didn’t know what else to do,” I said. “I wanted you to know how I feel.”

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “The funeral was so hard! And when we were coming back, I felt like Mom and I were all alone, and I was scared. Then I came home and found all this.”

I couldn’t help but smile as I went home. My prayer had been answered. And helping Jennifer feel better had made me feel better too. I plan to keep helping her as long as she needs me.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki