By Susan S. Spackman
On the morning that Santa was coming to preschool, my daughter, Eliza, woke up early and was ready hours before preschool, which would start at 11:00 A.M. At about 8:00 A.M. Brenda, one of the young sisters in our ward whom I visit teach, telephoned me to see if I could take her to the doctor because the person who was going to do it had the flu. Brenda, who was only 24, had cancer. She said it was a routine visit and would only take 20 minutes. I was happy to help. Since the appointment was at 9:00 A.M., I was certain we could be back in plenty of time for the Santa party. After all, Eliza was ready to go.
When I saw Brenda, she seemed to be worse than I remembered. She was so sick and frail that she couldn’t walk without help. It took my breath away to help her into the car. When we arrived at the doctor’s office, we found out he was going to be late. By 10:00 A.M. I was starting to get worried. Santa would be at the preschool at 11:30 A.M. for a 30-minute visit. If I had known we’d have to wait so long, I could have arranged for someone else to take Eliza. I felt torn knowing how much Brenda needed me yet not wanting Eliza to miss the party.
Eliza did not complain. In fact, she sat by Brenda and talked to her about the pictures in the magazines. They always got along well. Brenda especially enjoyed it since she was anxious to have a family of her own. At 10:50 A.M., Brenda finally got in to see her doctor. It seemed to take forever. By 11:15 A.M. I was rushing a weak and nauseated Brenda to the car. She could barely make it.
I said, “Well, just let me get Eliza to preschool, and then I’ll take you home.” I probably sounded slightly impatient.
Once on the freeway, Brenda asked me to stop. I pulled over just in time for her to get out of the car, crouch down, and throw up. I got out of the car and stood beside her. She was so sick, and I felt helpless and frustrated. My daughter didn’t say a word. She could see that we were stopped in freeway traffic with emergency lights flashing and cars zooming past. Finally, Brenda was able to get back into the car. By now it was 11:45 A.M. Eliza would miss the party. It seemed that I could do nothing for either Brenda or Eliza.
Once at Brenda’s apartment, we helped her get situated on the couch, where she could stay until her husband came home. I fixed her some broth, and then we left. In the car I had just started to apologize to Eliza when she said, “Mommy, it’s OK. Brenda is more important than Santa Claus.”
I felt such love for Eliza as I heard those words. They put the whole morning into perspective and reminded me of what I already knew: Brenda was more important than Santa Claus.