Some years are easier than others when November 16th comes around. This year is on the harder side of things. So many times in the last 13 years I have wanted to get advice from, share thoughts with, complain to, or rejoice with my father and yet I literally cannot. I have to admit that I believe that my life would be easier if my dad were still around. Even still emotions are filled with the dark clouds of loss that occasionally brake to release tears of anguish.
Due to a couple of recent conversations that I have had, there has been reason to wonder if these feelings are one sided. Do I miss and long to be with you without those feelings reciprocated? Do I wish that my wife and children could have had the opportunity to associate with you, without an equal desire on your part? When I struggle with decisions I need to make or long for the warm embrace that seemingly only you could render in the manner that instills peace, do you turn away? Or are you not even aware of me? Do you miss me like I you?
In The Book of Mormon the prophet Alma thought, “the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness . . . where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care and sorrow.” Is missing someone the sorrow, care or trouble spoken of here? Would the wish to interact with those still enduring a probationary state?
Brigham Young once said, “I have been near enough to understand eternity so that I have had to exercise a great deal more faith to desire to live than I have ever exercised in my whole life. The brightness and glory of the next apartment is inexpressible . . . Here, we are continually troubled with ills and ailments of various kinds. In the spirit world we are free from all this and enjoy life, glory, and intelligence.”
Jedediah M. Grant describe his feelings of the spirit world that he experienced by reflecting how he felt extremely sorrowful at having to leave so beautiful a place and come back to earth, for he looked upon his body with loathing, but was obliged to enter it again.
So, Dad, are you in a place so wonderful that you have lost the care you once had for me, your wife and other children/grandchildren? Is that place so much better than here that we are not a focus of concern at all? Is it so awesome that it has overwhelmed your sense of being a father, husband or even friend? So incredible that, we are like a dream that, while it was nice to experience, is over and not important enough to concern yourself with the well-being of those you love and who love you and the emotional connection that you created with those left behind? Dad, have you changed?
Dad, have you changed? That same Alma taught, “(the) same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” But Dad, you were the most loving man I have ever known. You wouldn’t willingly let someone suffer and not render aid and comfort, let alone someone you loved. Remember when I made that dry-ice bomb at school and got arrested? You came and visited me. Did you know that Mom told me what happened when you got home, without me? She said you walked in, with a crushed countenance, shoulders weighed down and as you said; “They wouldn’t let me have my boy.” you began to cry. I remember Dad. Do you? Or does that not matter now?
Maybe it is that you are in some distant place, so far in the universe that you can’t concern yourself with us because you don’t know how we are doing, and as a method of higher thinking, know that all will be well in the end, which has freed you from care and sorrow. But that isn’t true is it? You are close in fact, you are “close by,” as Ezra Taft Benson taught. To be more specific, Joseph F. Smith said; “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. . . .Therefore, I claim that we live in their presence” Brigham Young taught that the world of spirits is “right here” speaking of the earth we inhabit.
So you are who you were, that hasn’t changed. You are close by, maybe you just simply cannot see us, as we can’t see you. Again, that is wrong. To continue with Joseph F. Smith’s teaching, the next three words he said were; “they see us.” So you are the same person, are close by and can even see me. Why are you not troubled with the hard times that I go through? Why don’t you care for my well-being? Why aren’t you sorrowful when I am down or am full of sorrow myself, or just plain miss you? MAYBE I AM MISSING SOMETHING!
Do I really think that this is what is meant by Alma? Was he really trying to teach that those in the next realm are free from the godly feelings of a righteous man for his family and friends? These feelings that you possessed and expressed so eloquently while alive. Or are these worries and concerns that you are freed from the worries of the natural fallen man? When Lehi partook of the fruit of the tree of life, did he not then look for his family? Is it that you are freed from how to provide for yourself, freed from the need to sustain and nourish a temporal tabernacle of flesh and blood? Freed from the worry of physical pain and limitations? I could go on about what I think Alma really meant by being in a state of happiness, but I would rather share what I know to be true concerning what he didn’t mean.
Let me start by giving you the complete quote from Joseph F. Smith. “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. . . . Therefore, I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever.”
Love would cause you to care about me, would cause you to want the best for me, and would cause you to mourn with me. Let me continue.
Parley P. Pratt said “Such beings are we, when we have laid off this outward tabernacle of flesh. We are in every way interested, in our relationships, kindred ties, sympathies, affections, and hopes, as if we had continued to live, but had stepped aside, and were experiencing the loneliness of absence for a season. Our ancestors, our posterity, to the remotest ages of antiquity, or of future time, are all brought within the circle of our sphere of joys, sorrows, interests, or expectations.”
George Albert Smith said; “Think of the devotion and the faithfulness of those who day after day go into these temples and officiate for those who have passed to the other side; and know this, that those who are on the other side are just as anxious about us. They are praying for us and for our success. They are pleading, in their own way, for their descendants, for their posterity who live upon the earth.”
Before Oscar McConkie, Bruce R. McConkie’s father died, he called his family together and told them, “I am going to die. When I die I shall not cease to love you. I shall not cease to pray for you. I shall not cease to labor in your behalf.”
Joseph F. Smith said; “For now they (those in the spirit world) see the dangers that beset us; they can comprehend, better than before, the weaknesses that are liable to mislead us into dark and forbidden paths. They see the temptations and evils that beset us in life, and the proneness of mortal beings to yield to temptation and wrong doing; hence their solicitude for us and their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”
Dad, you passed away before I went on a mission, but when I was a missionary I was free “from all (my) troubles and from all care and sorrow.” Not because I didn’t miss you, or Mom, or the family and my close friends. Not because I wasn’t worried at times about things that those I love were doing. Even something as menial as Cheerio sustaining injuries for getting hit by a car caused me to cry and be sad. Yet I was free from the burden of this life, which you are now.
I know you know how difficult it has been for me these last few years. I know that you have cried alongside me. I know that you pray and make every effort you can for your family. I know that when God permits, you are as close as you have ever been to me and your family, regardless if I can see, hear or feel you. I know that you would love for my children and wife to know you as you know them. I know that you would love to give me the advice that I desire. I know you miss me. I know you love me.