Next week, Maddie Morris will have a brain tumor removed for the third time in her life. She is now 19 years old, but Maddie was first diagnosed 10 years ago. On this week’s episode of All In, Maddie and her parents, the authors of the middle-grade book Mustaches for Maddie, recalled the memories associated with Maddie’s initial diagnosis. Among them was a touching account of how Maddie’s mother’s cousin showed up just when they needed her—providing one more evidence of God’s love and the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which is sometimes manifest through another person meeting our needs.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: Chad and Shelly, for you, thinking about other parents who are in similar situations with their kids, I think especially at this holiday season, that's a tough time to be dealing with any kind of medical issue, and especially watching a child go through that. So what has been helpful to the two of you as parents in getting through this emotional roller coaster of health challenges?
Chad Morris: So I'm a thinker, and that's a good thing and a bad thing. But like when Maddie first got this tumor, it bothered me big time. And I would go to work and just look at my computer and catch myself just kind of spiraling and [had] all these worries or thoughts about stuff. And it was really hard, right? I just wasn't getting things done like I wanted to. And I've been in positions where I get to teach about the Atonement of Jesus Christ so many times before. But this is one of those moments where you're like, I hope this is going to apply to this. So I remember just praying over and over, like, "This load is getting to me, and I need some help." And just the reality that that works—that it's not just for the surgery moment, it can be the weeks before where you wake up, and you think you should feel heavy and dreary, but you don't. It feels like somebody else has the load for now. It's like, "I'm [going to] let you get done what you need to get done. I'll carry this for you now." And the tricky part is that that's not a one time thing. You can have a good day, and you feel like the Savior's helped with this today. And then the next day… right back to where you were, but with more prayers and more help. And overall, I think over time, I just say that the Savior wants to help.
Other people do too. He can help directly, He can send other people to come help you out. But He wants to, and wants us to invite Him to. And I think that's the biggest—in fact, if you don't mind, I'll tell you another story. When Maddie went into the second surgery, Maddie is doing all the craziness. She's there under the crazy stress, but Shelly and I are in a waiting room for most of the day. These surgeries can be four [to] eight hours long, and our personalities are very different. When I go into that, I'm like spiritual A game. I will be praying like almost every moment that we're there. Meanwhile, Shelly has got a different way of exercising faith. She's like, I've already fasted. I've already prayed. I'm trusting the Lord.
Shelly Brown: At that point, I will get extreme; I get ulcers. And I'm like, "Yeah, I can't sit there for eight hours and think about surgery. Oh my gosh, I'll go crazy."
Chad Morris: She's like, "I need a stress release. I need to watch a funny video or something." So you can imagine the two of us sitting next to each other in a waiting room. And I'm trying to do focus and prayer. And Shelly's like, "Hey, check out this video. It's really funny." And I tried to be nice and watch a few. "Yeah, that's funny," you know, but then she's annoyed that I'm not laughing with her. And I'm annoyed that she’s showing me this stuff. And then Shelly's cousin shows up in the waiting room at the hospital and just says, "You know what, I was just thinking this morning. I know Chad, and I know he wants to be focused. And I know Shelly, and I know she wants somebody to talk to. So I'm here to talk to Shelly. Chad, you can go do your thing." And I think that's just another great way the Lord just wants to help. And again, it's not all the big things, but little ways He wants to help out along the way.
Morgan Jones Pearson: That's such a good story. It reminds me, my grandma was a widow for like 15 years. And she had a neighbor whose husband passed away. And my grandma didn't know the neighbor very well. And she called the lady and she said—and we didn't know about this until after my grandma passed away—but the lady said my grandma called her. And she said, "I want you to know, I'm going to come over and sit with you. But you should also know I don't expect you to say anything to me." And for my grandma, that would have been so far out of her comfort zone. But she did it because she knew what she had felt like. And she knew that she would have wanted somebody to come and sit with her and to not feel like she had to talk. And so I think [we] just [need to] recognize this is something that I would want somebody to do for me, and being thoughtful ... like your cousin Shelly, to think "This is the situation that will be going on here," [is important].