All That Golden Goodness

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(This is an excerpt from the book Sunset.)

We must not allow our fears, or our grief, or our doubts to destroy our hope or take away the brightness of the future. How often have I imparted those words to friends and students in their spiritual wrestlings? Can I believe them now with the same calm assurance with which I offered them to others? God has not answered many a prayer these last months and weeks as I would have desired, and sometimes the silences have left me with anxious wondering, but He has frequently pressed into my soul certain assurances I try not to allow my restless disquiet to dismiss.

I find Him drawing my thoughts back to the days when we first met and grew into love—as if those days gave us the truest sight of each other, in spite of all their romantic colorings, for there was nothing but perfection in all I saw. We should love people for what they are at their very best, the totality of all their highest moments from every age. This is the real person, the eternal one, the one we are to remember and hold dear, I of her and she of me. Death insists upon this vision. Throughout our lives together, whenever I looked through the oh-so-very-thin veil of her limitations with my most loving, my purest, my most exalted eyes and saw her as she was—beautiful, gentle, warm, loving, the perfection of refined femininity—then I was looking at the true Laurie.

The scriptures speak of being faithful to “the wife of thy youth” and “the wife of thy covenant” (Malachi 2:14). Laurie will always be eighteen to me, the bride of my youth. That is the girl I hold in my heart and will always hold there. I will not, must not, harbor in the closets of my mind those anguish-filled memories of what pain and cancer did to her. Too much joy-lifting life overflows them, washing the mind clean. To those first fondly contemplated images is added the multitude of memories of her presence in hundreds of different situations at every age, yet there is something about that earliest picture that nothing else can overpower. In the final reuniting when we greet each other with, “My own beloved!” she will be more her true self than ever I knew of her in life, for the nobler we are, the more completely we reflect the perfections of Him in whose image we are created both inside and out.

My life has been filled with many wonderful and happy moments, but there is one that has for decades remained the single most defining and joyful instant of my life, and to this sliver of time the Lord directs my memory. It was that July day in 1972 when I knelt at the altar in the Cardston Alberta Temple and looked across it into Laurie’s face. I believe God opened the windows of His celestial world for just enough time for a ray of glory and light and love to flood down upon us. I have never been able to adequately describe that brief blink of eternity, but as C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Such a sweetness and power rolled about them and over them and entered them that they felt they had never really been happy or wise or good, or even alive and awake, before. And the memory of that moment stayed with them always, so that as long as they both lived, if ever they were sad or afraid or angry, the thought of all that golden goodness, and the feeling that it was still there, quite close, just round some corner or just behind some door, would come back and make them sure, deep down inside, that all was well” (The Magician’s Nephew, 161). That is how I have looked on our sealing that July day. That is the comfort eternal covenants impart. That is a power beyond cancer, beyond separation, beyond even the lonely longing that looks ahead to the years when I will not hear her voice, or see her face, or feel her touch. It was the happiest day of my life, and its remembered joy continues to be a fulfillment that outweighs any price life may exact from me in the form of pain or adversity. I have that day, and no amount of suffering or remorse can deny me of its solace. If she loves me, I am in heaven already, and life can do what it will.

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