It practically reads like a sonnet, and I can’t get it out of my head:
“The folks have been here today, but have gone to their homes. The clatter of racing feet, the laughter and babble of tongues have ceased. We are alone, We two. We two whom destiny has made one. Long ago, it has been sixty years since we met under the June trees. I kissed you first. How shy and afraid was your girlhood. Not any woman on earth or in heaven could be to me what you are. I would rather you were here, woman, with your gray hair, than any fresh blossom of youth. Where you are is home. Where you are not is homesickness. As I look at you I realize that there is something greater than love, although love is the greatest thing in earth. It is loyalty. For were I driven away in shame you would follow. If I were burning in fever your cool hand would soothe me. With your hand in mine may I pass and take my place among the saved of Heaven”¦.”
I was lying down as I read the latest issue of The Ensign, and had to sit up and read this section from Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners by Elder Bruce C. Hafen and his wife, Marie, aloud to my husband. I felt my throat tighten at its tenderness and intimacy—the journal entry quoted by John Haslem Clark to his wife reading more like a love letter than a record making account.
My husband set his own magazine on his chest, and turned his face toward mine as I read. His reaction was similar to my own, but “That is so true” was almost too trite to say, or “I agree” seemed an unbecoming platitude in comparison to the journaled verse. So he stayed silent for a moment. His blue eyes looked straight into mine as he told me he loved me, and I noticed the week-old beginnings of a beard almost blonde, and offset by a tan from a few days spent by the ocean. I love him so much too—the look of him, his shorn head so soft, his arm lazy across the pillows.
I leaned over and kissed him.
We all want a hand to hold in Heaven, but how lovely the exquisite physical pleasure of an earthly kiss.
Can I trust a Heavenly kiss will feel the same? Or even his hands? Will I miss the tactile feeling of a warm, dry hand that holds on to my own, and brushes stray hairs out of my eyes, and rests on the small of my back?
My husband assures me that Celestial love is something I cannot fathom. I know that. And yet”¦
I have a dear friend who is in love too. She gushes over her beau, of how they laugh and talk of the family they would have, of how they long for more physical intimacy. But he is non-Mormon, and she is confused. Should she commit to him—to marrying a non-member—or just let all this love dwindle? She poses the question all the time. And each time I tell her I don’t know. Is it better to be alone because you can’t fine the “perfect spouse” who fulfills the list of requirements you made 20 years ago in Mia Maids? Or is it okay to have and enjoy the physical earthly love of now, even if it won’t last?
And if everything is made whole in Christ’s Atonement, then why wouldn’t the non-Mormon’s hand to hold turn into a converted hand to hold later, in Heaven?
And what about the people who get married in the temple just “for time?” Is that just because they don’t want to be alone now?
Because what of loneliness? We all know it is “not good for man to be alone.” And even John’s wife Therissa replies in his journal, later:
“Almost two years and a half since the last writing, and it’s following events are so sad, so heartbreaking for this, his life’s companion that this pen has been laid down many times ere this record is made. Loss and loneliness are ever present and will be with me to the end. Will time soften this sadness, will I be able to leave the Old Home and not feel that his is waiting for me, calling me? I am only content at home where I feel that he is watching over me, his presence always with me”¦”
Let it be known, that I would never have considered not getting married in the temple. But I was 19 and didn’t know about life and the way it’s fickle and choosy, and fraught with heartaches like loneliness and childlessness. Am I making an excuse in this seeming concession for my friend? It’s a bit base, I know—but sometimes I want her to know the feeling of sexual intimacy, the feeling of someone to walk through life with, the feeling of a hand to hold, now. And I just want her to be happy. And shoot, if lying next to my husband in our bed (reading our magazines, staring at his profile, feeling the heat of him and the give of the mattress as he moves) isn’t happy, sometimes I don’t know what is.