Today I attended the funeral of Tammy Parry. Her husband Mark worked for me for several years. Over those year I had an opportunity to meet and be with Tammy several times. Each time I was touched by her kindness, sweet spirit, intriguing and genuine interest, and happy, positive demeanor. I was equally touched by Mark's tenderness toward Tammy as he gently and patiently cared for her.
We attend funerals for many reasons: to remember and honor a loved one, to express love and support a friend or family member, because we feel obligated, and sometimes we are drawn there. We can leave a funeral with a broad range of feelings ranging from deep sadness, regret, gratitude, perspective, love, awe, and sometimes a whole new outlook on life. Today I have a whole new outlook on life!
After giving birth to her first and only child, Josh, in her early twenties, Tammy was left with a body racked with a range of ailments of which I still don't fully know and still can't comprehend, but which included near blindness, deteriorating physical weakness, and seizures. At the onset of this sudden illness the Lord and Tammy had the choice to continue on in her severely limited state or to return home to God. To the blessing of so many they chose to endure. And thus continued 33 more years of what I will call the life of an Angel.
Oh Jesus I have read of all thy miracles performed.
Healing the lame, raising the dead, causing the blind to see.
If Thou who created heaven and earth can even calm the storm.
Oh why not Lord heal me, oh Lord, why not me?
Though Tammy may have never asked this question, so many of us cry out a questioning plea of "why me?" Or, "if you can perform miracles, oh why not me?"
I learned today the those with seemingly less can often do so much more than us who appear to have it all. Tammy did more with less than I in as many years, even in all of my abundance. I learned today that God may not heal a body so that he can save a soul - even many souls. I learned that God loves us enough to give us weakness so we can be strong through Christ's Atonement. I learned that a physically feeble and weak mother can raise the strongest son. I realize that some of God's choicest and strongest spirits are housed in the weakest of bodies. I have witnessed how any who will allow it, can be changed for the better by knowing someone like Tammy Parry.
I know just as in the days of Jesus that God allows people like Tammy to suffer and endure so "that the works of God should be manifest." Isn't it amazing that as Tammy suffered and endured she was made more like God and that those who served her and whom were served by her also gained God-like attributes. Isn't that really what God's "work and glory" are; to bring us home changed so we can live His life forever?
Thanks be to God, who in his wisdom allows weakness of some form to exist in all of us, that in our weakness we can turn to Him for His grace and mercy. And though many of us may never be healed of our weakness in this life, through the process of enduring and striving to overcome, we become like Him. And ironically we are often even carried along on the coattails of even the weakest. Such was the case with Tammy Parry.
Thank you God and thank you Tammy for choosing to stay and endure 33 years. Though you were not blessed with the miracle of a physical healing we were all blessed with the miracle of your life. How you have blessed us - even me - who only had the pleasure of your company a handful of times and was most privileged to attend your inspiring funeral!