Sunday, September 23, 2012

Visiting the Sick, or Please Don't

  Today in CTR 5's (the class I co-teach at church), we talked about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. In the past I've found that this mostly consists of a long list of things we SHOULDN'T do, and a small list of things we CAN do, which largely consists of reading scriptures and praying. One of the things on the CAN list was "visiting the sick". This immediately triggered a memory from a few years back, like soldiers with PTS, only not like that at all.

  This was back during our summer in China, a non-stop thrill ride of a time. Except not at all. Most of the summer I was holed up in our one-room apartment (roughly the size of a normal bedroom),  extremely sick with mystery Asian illnesses. At one point I was honestly worried I might die in China, and then there would be all sorts of complications about sending my body back, except I really just want to be cremated, and I'm pretty sure that's the main thing they do in China, but maybe McKay wouldn't respect my wishes and then I'd have to haunt him forever. Anyway, I often missed church because it was a forty-five minute drive and I generally couldn't be more than thirty seconds away from a bathroom. One such Sunday, a sweet little family in the ward decided to check off an item on the Sunday CAN list, and told McKay they were going to come visit me.

  Now, think about this. I've been sick all week. I have not been able to do dishes (which I had to do in our bathroom sink because our apartment did not have a kitchenette), or change the litter box of the devil cat we agreed to take care of for the summer. I haven't swept, wiped, or dusted any surface, and I have not taken a shower or done my hair or make up in days.

  Which of course means it is the PERFECT time to come visit me in my tiny one-room apartment.

  One of the things on the SHOULDN'T list is clean. But heaven help me, I dragged my sick butt up and cleaned like I was scrubbing my very soul clean. In between toilet trips, that is.

  I put on a minimal amount of make-up, just enough that I didn't feel self-conscious, but little enough that it didn't look like I wasn't actually sick and had been faking to get out of church. It's a fine line. I stayed in my pajamas, but put on a bra.

  I don't like entertaining people under the best of circumstances. I find it stressful. And when I'm making trips to the bathroom every five minutes, all I ask is that you please leave me alone and let me die in peace. But McKay, being someone who actually LIKES people, did me wrong and let those sweet, caring people come to our apartment. I can't strain the heinousness and treachery of this act enough.

  When the three arrived (mother, father, and son), I realized we only had two chairs in the apartment, plus the bed. I offered them the bed so they could all sit, but they opted for the chairs for some mysterious reason (what, the sick girl's bed ain't good enough for ya?), making the son stand.

  So they sat. And smiled. And watched.

  "So . . . how are you guys?" I asked, croakily, trying to smile as if this visit were the highlight of my week.

  "We're fine, thanks." They smiled.


  "Um, would you like to play a game or something?" I asked, not sure what one does when being visited for the sake of illness.

  "No, no, we're not here to be entertained, don't worry."


  "Oh, uh, okay. So how was church?"

  And so it went, with me forcing small talk (one of my least favorite things) with three people who were completely content to sit and smile and watch me in my state of illness. Because THAT IS WHAT GOOD MORMONS DO, DARN IT.

  Anyone else get to have an uncomfortable encounter due to someone else's thoughtfulness?


  1. Oh, dear. I've never actually interpreted "visit the sick" to mean THAT kind of sick. More along the lines of the bedridden--those who are lonely because they can't get out. But I have to admit, when I was in the hospital on bedrest during a pregnancy, I called a friend who was planning on visiting to tell her NOT to come. Some times are just not good for visiting. Sorry you had to endure being a service project!

  2. Oh dear! That sounds awful. I once had a boy in my singles ward visit me because he "like being friendly with everyone" (there may have been a slight language barrier as well) And I think I was right in the middle of homework, or cleaning, or cooking dinner. . . not a good time. And I probably wouldn't have wanted to visit with him if it WAS a good time, but it would still be nice if people asked "Is this a good time for you to visit?"

  3. Last summer during Jared's internship I had to drop him off at a coworkers house every morning so they could car pool together. The coworkers wife was NUTS, but extremely friendly, and invited me into her house one morning after the boys left. I think I have blocked out the details of the experience because it was so awkward for me, but the gist is that I was there for an hour, wandering around her house with her, petting her cats and comparing which was softest, looking at her husbands gaming equipment and fake armor, smelling different parts of her house, adn then sitting and staring at each other while I tried to ask questions. I think her ex-husband horror stories eventually came up and dominated conversation, which was fine with me. It seemed like it would never end while it was happening.