Monsters and Mormons: The Living Wife

As I mentioned here, the new anthology Monsters and Mormons will be publishing my story “The Living Wife.” And since it’s a ghost story, we are posting an excerpt for Halloween. This section takes place after Zina, who can see ghosts, discovers that her new husband is actually a widower, and that she will be sharing their home with the ghosts of two predecessors, Agnes and Grace.

Grace hovered around me one washday, as I boiled water, grated lye soap, and scrubbed. Washday was a good day to be a ghost, I thought, watching other people rub their hands till they bled, knowing you’d never have to do it again yourself. I worked stains out of our clothes. She followed me into the yard, as far as her house-binding would allow, as if daring me to talk to her. Finally I said, “What?”
“You shouldn’t be so rude. You ought to know what I’ve guessed already.”
“What is it?”
“Haven’t you noticed the laundry? Or have you not been counting the weeks? If I’m right, you’re with child.”
Ah.
She was right. And I had lost track of weeks. “You’re the first person to know,” I said. “I didn’t realize.” And then I scrubbed at the washboard and cried a little. She had stolen my good news from me.
Her glee at being right dissipated when she saw me crying. “I thought you’d be happy,” she said.
“I wanted to know myself,” I told her. “You should have guessed that. Or haven’t you been pregnant before?”
“I was, once,” she said. “But the baby came early, and died, and I died too. Didn’t Nathaniel tell you?”
I shook my head. “But that’s how Agnes died.”
Grace nodded.
“I’m sorry.”
“I had made all the clothes,” Grace said. “The little gowns, and the cloth hemmed for diapers, and tiny booties. Quilts, too. I’ll show you, if you want.”
“Let me finish the wash,” I said. She left me alone as I washed, wringing out the clothes in long twisted sticks, shaking the water out in a fine mist, hanging them on the line so the cold breeze would blow them dry. Sometimes I noticed the spirits watching me work, and I envied them their indolence, their clean, idle existence. Don’t wish away your work, the Holy Spirit told me. You don’t want their pale half-life.
Grace waited for me inside the door. “Upstairs,” she said. “In the left bedroom, beneath the bed, there’s a long flat box.” She followed me as I went up the stairs and into the bedroom, and pulled the box from beneath the bed. I opened it and it was as she said, only more so. Stacks of diapers, rows of gowns, two baby quilts. Each little gown embroidered with flowers. Baby quilts dotted with tiny, even stitches.
“I didn’t become pregnant for four years after we married,” she told me. “I had time to work. I worried that Nathaniel would give my things away, but he didn’t. He saved them.”
“To remember you? Or to give to his next child?”
“I don’t know.” She reached for a white gown, but her hand passed through it. “I’ll let you use them.”
“You will?” I could use her baby things without asking, but I wanted permission. These were too beautiful to poach.
“I’ll let you use them if you’ll talk to Nathaniel for me. Give him a message from me.”
Such a condition. “I can’t,” I said. “I can’t do that.”
“Of course you can. You can tell him that Grace loves him as much as she ever did. Or no, tell him this. Tell him that he’s got the best darned socks in the world.”
“What?”
“It was our joke, what he always used to say when I mended his things.”
“And am I supposed to run messages between the two of you?”
“Not lots of messages. Just this one. Please.”
I picked up a tiny bootie, knit out of white yarn. Five pairs of booties, each slightly larger than the one before. Careful anticipation for an arrival that came too early. “I’ll think about it,” I said.
I folded the baby clothes, stacking them in even rows, making them look as perfect and tidy as they had before. If Grace’s baby had survived, she would have spent many hours scrubbing these clothes, removing yeasty yellow stains, doing wash more than once a week to keep up. A living, crying, messy baby, ruining and redeeming every stitch.

In the story I tried to find both the potential humor and the real pain of the Mormon doctrine that a man can be sealed to wives who are deceased at the same time as one living wife. We don’t practice polygamy anymore, but we do have men sealed to both deceased spouses and living wives. How do you feel about widowers remarrying? Do you want your spouse to remarry, and would you visit them if you could?

As for me, I would want my husband to remarry if I died. I wouldn’t want him to be alone. But if my mom died, even though I’d hate to see my dad lonely, I would also struggle mightily with having my father remarry. I would try very hard to be kind to her, but there’s no one like my mom, and I hope I never have to see her replaced.
I realize this can be a tender topic for many people, and I hope that I don’t open any wounds, but I’m interested in your opinions here.

And have an excellent Halloween, filled with cute kids and the best candy.

About Emily M.

(Poetry Board) graduated from BYU in Comparative Literature, but it was long enough ago that most of what she learned has leaked out. She would like to mention other hobbies or interests, but to be honest she spends most of her free time reading (although she does enjoy attempting yoga). She used to blog at hearingvoices.wordpress.com. For now, though, Segullah is her only blogging home, and it's a good one.

47 thoughts on “Monsters and Mormons: The Living Wife

  1. Interesting story. It made me uncomfortable in all the right ways.

    I’m not married, but I would never date or marry a widower. I can’t compete with a ghost and I won’t share my husband. Plus, it wouldn’t be fair to the deceased wife to suddenly have to share her husband. I would feel like a celestial home wrecker.

    If I’m widowed, I won’t remarry, and if I predecease a hypothetical husband, I don’t want him to remarry either. (Though I suppose I could make an exception for him marrying a widow, since then he couldn’t be sealed to her and I wouldn’t have to share him in the afterlife.) As far as I’m concerned, time and all eternity really means time and all eternity. If death doesn’t end the marriage, then I wouldn’t feel right about pursuing another one.

    I recognize that my experience of being single for my entire adult life colors my view on this. I handle singleness quite nicely now, so I don’t see myself needing to remarry if I’m widowed. (Besides, dating sucks, so once I’ve found someone, I definitely don’t want to put myself through that agony again.)

  2. I’m all for my husband remarrying if I die. And if the right guy came around, I would remarry, too, if my husband died. My dad died, and my mom remarried and I am so glad. She’s finally got the marriage she deserved all along. Ten years later and they’re still like newlyweds!

  3. Ditto what Strollerblader said about remarrying if my husband dies and vice versa. Hope I never have to face it though. My mom always says that you only inherit the Celestial kingdom if you are totally selfless and charitable so you don’t have to worry about plural marriage until (if) you get to that point. I think she has a good point. The problem with plural marriage is fear and selfishness-fear that you will be left out or have to share something you don’t want to share. So only the people who are not afraid and not selfish because they are filled with love will have to deal with it (since, thank goodness we don’t practice it HERE) and they won’t have a problem with it. So (maybe) I’ll worry about it at a later date. ;)

  4. Ana – I’ve heard the “don’t be selfish” reasoning for opposing celestial polygamy before, but it doesn’t make sense to me. We are taught to expect fidelity in our earthly marriage (i.e. thou shalt not commit adultery), so why is it wrong/selfish to expect fidelity in our eternal marriage? And why are women the only ones expected to be “unselfish” like that?

  5. My previous comment should begin the “don’t be selfish” reasoning for not opposing celestial polygamy. (That’s what I get for not proofreading…)

  6. I liked Emily’s story. A LOT. And I snickered at what she was better at than the other wives. *snicker* Still makes me snicker.

    Anyway, the digital files are now available for sale here: http://b10mediaworx.com/b10mwx/catalog/monsters-mormons

    If I died before my children were out of the house, I would HOPE my husband would remarry. If my husband died, I may or may not remarry, depending on if I felt like going to the effort. The bloom is off the marriage rose, so to speak.

  7. Story: Friend marries. She and her hubby have four months together –he dies unexpectedly. Years later, after months of turmoil, she chooses to have her sealing canceled so she can be sealed to another husband. They have several children now.

    Most people don’t believe me. I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t known it for myself first hand. This isn’t a rumor –she really was able to have her sealing cancelled –and it wasn’t over sin or divorce or whatever.

    I actually agree with Ana. But even more than that –I think we are unwise to stipulate about the eternities based on our own flawed mortal minds right now. God is eternal and all-loving, yes? Then wouldn’t that mean we would be in the happiest situation possible IF we keep our covenants and do our best here? That’s my conclusion. Freaking out over what “might happen” or “could happen” is completely pointless. In some situations, we simply don’t know.

    I would remarry; I would want my husband to remarry. Maybe just for time? Who knows. Either way, I love that man too much to demand his loneliness just because I might be insecure at the thought that he could love more than one person. Just sayin’.

  8. Keri–I have my suspicions for why it seems to be this way, but for now just count me in the camp of those who are thoroughly glad not to live it in this life but are reserving judgment on it for the next. ;)

  9. Emily, “A living, crying, messy baby, ruining and redeeming every stitch.” love love love this line!!! I don’t know why it touched such a chord. thank you….

  10. I am the one who accepted this story so I’m very biased, but I think that part of the genius of it is that it tackles these issues in a very interesting way: what if not only there was remarriage, but the new, living wife could see the spirits of her predecessors?

    That’s a creepy, terrifying notion — and one that is so much so because it so uniquely Mormon. But also one that is handled with poignancy and, yes, humor by Emily.

  11. I used to freak out at the thought of sharing a husband. I fought with the idea of polygamy and the history of it in our church. Until one day I was given a moment of understanding and then I was okay with it. Long story, not for here. Anyway, it’s a good thing that I gave up the fight because I’m now married to a widower and have raised the two children he had with his first wife, the two I had with my first husband (sealing cancelled) and the two we have had together. I completely expect to have a relationship with him, and her, and all the children in the next life. What the nature of that relationship will be is not for me to understand right now, and I can accept that on faith in a loving and wise Heavenly Father.

  12. It is a stunning story!

    I have no idea about remarriage. I’m divorced, still sealed to my ex-husband. He is no longer worthy of the blessings and covenants he made, so the boys are sealed to ME, not him. Should I ever get to the stage of considering marriage, statistically it will be with someone who has been married, possibly sealed before. That will be a complicated marriage bed, no matter who is physically there.

    I’ve filed it firmly under a rock, under the mountain that has “Think about later” carved upon it. All I know is that heaven won’t be heaven if we’re unhappy or dissatisfied.

    Can’t wait to see the story in print!

  13. A while back my hometeacher and I went through the policies on sealings in the GHI just for kicks. Turns out that women can be sealed to multiple husbands as well, so long as the woman is dead. FWIW, while there is definitely a lingering polygamy-in-the-hear-after thing going on with the way that we treat male sealings, at the end of the day there is no consistent principle as near as I can tell that could unify all of the rules and policies. Its the kind of contorted, ad hoc, historically contingent accretion of inconsistent rules that makes my professor-of-the-common-law heart go pitter patter.

  14. Just to be clear: Suppose that Woman is sealed to Man 1 in the temple. Man 1 dies. Woman then marries Man 2. She may not be sealed to Man 2, while she is both alive and sealed to Man 1. On the other hand, once Woman dies her daughter may perform a proxy sealing to Man 2, with the result that she is now sealed to two men. The sealing to Man 1 does not need to be dissolved by the First Presidency before the proxy sealing occurs, and the second sealing has no effect on the validity of the first sealing.

  15. Liked it. Really liked it. Most of it, that is. The one part that rubbed me wrong was when the Holy Ghost whispered to her to not “wish away your work. You don’t want their pale half-life.”

    The spirits in the next life aren’t experiencing a pale half life, are they?? What about a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care and sorrow?! That doesn’t sound like a pale half life to me.

    Sorry, I’m a mom who lost her little boy and I don’t understand exactly where he is and what he’s doing and I wish I did and I’m too sensitive to any suggestion that it’s any less than perfect.

    But I really liked the story.

  16. I think it sounds like a fascinating story and want to read more. I would love to see more explorations of the intersection between our Mormon beliefs in a real Spirit World and our cultural expectations of ghosts and spirits. Is one person’s haunting really just another person’s comfort from a deceased ancestor?

    I am recently divorced and have to admit that lately I’ve sometimes thought a return to earthly polygamy would be nice. Why can’t I just add myself to someone else’s family? That would solve a lot of problems (and obviously create new ones, LOL). I have known people who have been widowed while still young and then remarried, and I don’t begrudge them that decision at all. I do wonder sometimes what the afterlife implications are of being sealed to someone that you only live with on earth for a few years and then not being sealed to a spouse of many years, but I also believe ultimately that God’s ways are not ours.

  17. @Suzie, the spirits are stuck there, not in paradise. I took it to mean that they have a pale half-life because they aren’t where they’re supposed to be and are tethered to the earth.

  18. Wow, thanks for the comments, everyone! I thought this might be a crickets chirping in the comments kind of post.

    Keri, I hated dating too, and would probably not remarry for that reason.

    Strollerblader, I love that you’re so happy for your mom. What a good daughter.

    Ana, I’m with you on the worrying about it at a later date. I confess to having enough fear and selfishness regarding plural marriage that I’m really glad it’s something we no longer are asked to live in this life.

    Moriah, I rescued the comment–thanks for bringing it to my attention. I am tickled that you liked the story, and thanks for posting the link. Yes, it would be a matter of going to the effort to remarry. It would be a lot of work.

    Cheryl, I’ve never heard of a story like that before, but it makes sense to me. Thanks for sharing it!

    Jeannie, thank you.

    William, you are kind. And also, I have to say, a really excellent editor, giving great suggestions and direction while still letting me do my own thing. Thanks so much for letting me be a part of this.

    Shelley, I love what you say, “it’s a good thing that I gave up the fight.” That’s how my personal peace with polygamy came too, like I just let go of the fight and accepted that because God loves me and all women, it would be okay.

    Kel, thanks so much for your help with it! You were fantastic. I think your image of a mountain with “think about later” is very apt.

  19. Nate, I didn’t realize that! So interesting. We still think of men sealed to multiple wives rather than women sealed to multiple husbands, and I didn’t know that was possible. I’m imagining a Grant Spouse Sorting Out time at some point in eternity. Thanks for explaining this.

    Thanks so much, Dalene, I’m really glad you liked it.

    Suzie, first of all, I’m so sorry for the loss of your little boy. That is the most terrible thing I can imagine, and I’m sad any mother has to endure that.

    On the doctrinal stuff, a couple of clarifications: In the Monsters and Mormons submissions guidelines, the editors told us not to think too hard about the doctrinal reasons why our stories would have ghosts, or vampires, or monsters. We didn’t need to come up with a doctrinal reason for everything. So in my story, for the sake of the story, I needed the spirits to have to stay in one spot, and I needed them to be busybody types, so that’s how they were. I don’t really think the spirit world is like that. In the story, Zina’s always comparing herself to the ghost wives, and she needs to relish being alive a little more. It serves the story, but I agree that that line is not really doctrinal.

    One small point about it, though–I think I was thinking of the D&C 138:50 “For the dead had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage,” meaning that the state of being a spirit, even if you’re happy and at peace because you’ve been good, is still an imperfect, not-yet-resurrected state. There’s something essential about having a body, something that makes us more real, and I think that’s what I was trying to get at. I am sure your little boy is happy, and I bet his work right now is to find ways to bring you peace and comfort.

    Foxy J, yes, me too. I love that question: is one person’s haunting another person’s comfort from a deceased ancestor? That intersection of Mormon beliefs and cultural expectations is an interesting place.

    Moriah–I didn’t think it through that far, but you came up with a good explanation for it.

    Heathermommy-Ha! I think I would be a haunter too. Just to check up on him, make sure he was doing well.

  20. Hee hee, I was looking at the cover of Monsters and Mormons and my thirteen-year-old son came up behind me and said, “Mom? What’s that?” When I explained to him he decided to buy it and download it to his kindle so I got to read the rest of the story and I didn’t even have to pay for it! Wheeeee!!!

    I really enjoyed the way it jived with our culture and doctrine, and also didn’t. Mormon with a twist.

    Thanks for your comment on my hangup about the afterlife. You’re right, the D&C does say that spirits do miss their bodies. I liked Grace and Agnes. I hope Zina [moderated to remove spoiler :-)].Really good story.

  21. “If I died before my children were out of the house, I would HOPE my husband would remarry.”

    Oh gee. After kids are out of the house, a wife has almost more meaning. Many couples find their sex life is better, and you need each other as much or more (while child-rearing, you often need your partner to do tasks that could be done by any caregiver, but later you need them to provide emotional support that only they can give). And last time I checked the policy, older men can’t serve a mission alone.

    Years ago, I wrote a letter of welcome to my husband’s new wife, and tucked it in with my will, just in case it was ever needed. Since I didn’t realize the haunting option would be available:)

  22. So, clicked through the link, and while I’m really, really tempted to download the ePUB file, I only have an iPhone to read it on (screen is just too small for 600 pages of paperback), and I’m really a dead tree lover anyway. What’s the word on an official release date?

  23. Fascinating story!

    Put me firmly in the camp of “let him remarry and worry about it later.” Although, with nine kids left behind, it would have to be a super amazing woman who would be willing to take my husband on. There are probably a few out there who might do it, though. If my husband were to die, on the other hand, I have a hard time believing any man would look twice at a woman with that many kids, so I’m pretty sure I’d be single the rest of my life, and we keep our life insurance policies current for that reason.

    I think too many people think that all you have to do to have a forever marriage is be sealed in the temple and live a decent life. I think there’s more to qualifying for the celestial kingdom than just that — the covenants we make in the temple require a bit more than just being “pretty good,” for example — so I imagine there will be a lot of sealings that will have to work themselves out in the eternities, where one partner is worthy and the other is not. And there will be plenty of worthy men and women who don’t marry in this life who will be married during the Millennium. I believe it will all work out a lot more smoothly than we think in the here and now.

    I loved listening last fall to this interview with Elder Scott. He discusses why he never remarries and says that it is his belief that before any sealing is made permanent, both partners will stand before the Savior and make that decision again. He says he wants to do everything possible so that his wife will choose him again. I’d never heard that thought before, but I find it both humbling and comforting: http://mormonchannel.org/programs/conversations-episode-6?lang=eng I also think he’s probably safe; his wife would choose him again.

  24. Wow. Very interesting story and discussion.

    My mom died nearly six years ago. My dad is only 65, and I really wish he’d get with the program and marry some nice lady (he would like that, too, but he’s making no effort). The new wife wouldn’t be my mother, but she would make my dad happy, and I think my mom would like that.

    If I die, I have my replacement already picked out. My husband hasn’t said yay or nay, so I’m hoping he’d marry her.

    If I lose my hubby first, I’m with all the women who said it might be too much work to break in a new husband. It took a lot of years to get my current spouse the way I like him. :)

  25. Suzie, so glad you enjoyed it. I hope it’s okay that I edited your comment just a little to remove a spoiler.

    Naismith, yes those would be lonely years without a spouse. I can see Moriah’s point, though, that it would be very hard to raise children alone. Also, I love your welcome letter to the next wife.

    Peyton, November 11 is the print release date, but you can pre-order books on the link above. There will be Facebook and Twitter events November 11 too, if you like Monsters and Mormons on Facebook, you can stay updated that way.

    Handsfullmom, I loved that interview with Elder Scott too. I love the tender way he speaks about his wife.

    Stephanie, I have tried to pick out my replacement, too, but I bet if I died there would be someone totally different.

    Thanks everyone for the great comments! (and please forgive any typos in this comment; I am terrible with iPad typing.)

  26. Great story looking forward to eeading the rest.

    If I die first and have some notice I’m leaving a list. I hope my husband remarries someone kind and good. I have a sweet cousin that was widowed at 21 with two small children. She was not sealed to the first husband but I know that was something they together looked forward to. She recently remarried. There was a sealing involved. I don’t know if it was to the first husband or the second. It makes me sad she has to choose that. I know several other women that have had similarly heartbreaking things to contemplate. I think that in the eternities we will be way more interconnected than sometimes we believe.

    I know that women can be sealed to multiple husbands after death. I wish that women like men could be sealed to a deceased spouse and then also receive that blessing of a sealing with whomever they remarry. From a man’s perspective it is a terrible thing to have your wife die. There is comfort taken that the wife has still has a connection to you even if you remarry and are sealed to a new wife. For a woman if she is sealed to her husband and he dies then she decides to remarry and perhaps considers sealing to that second husband that also means she must consider canceling the sealing to the first husband.

    Since sealings to multiple husbands is allowed after her death it seems like an unnecessary heartache to impose on a woman. She doesn’t know what her marriage relationship will look like in the next life why not leave it at, we love the Lord, we love each other as did my former spouse whom I also loved and they me. I am sealed to you and you to me and I am also sealed to my former spouse, but most importantly we are all sealed togeter to God.

    If I do die before my husband I have a specific haunting plan all figured out! I hope we both die at the same time peacefully in our sleep at a highly advanced age.

    I someday hope to sit down in my Father’s kingdom. What I want most of all is to see all those I love there.

  27. Some brief comments: I have a lot of faith in a statement made by Marion D. Hanks: “To believe in God is to believe that all the rules will be fair and there will be wonderful surprises”, talking about the next life. We can’t begin to guess on the workings of the next life.
    Second, I believe the celestial kingdom (the only one where eternal marriage is applicable) operates on a type of love we don’t begin to achieve – and it has nothing to do with “being about me” – it is totally the happiness and well-being of others and from that level of love, we are fed spiritually. What we do here in relation to love and service is microscopic in comparison.
    Third and last: every temple sealing is only a promise – not a guarantee without the second sealing, which is by the Holy Spirit of promise. And its a very rare couple that receives that in this life.

    So we may be getting our unmentionables in knots over something that is a long way from being a reality.

    And if we think we’ve eliminated selfishness from our lives, not to offend, but really – who are we to impose our preferences on our spouses for who they should marry in the event of our passing? Its a long, long way to the celestial kingdom for me, I know for sure. And I’m not leaving a replacement list.

  28. this whole topic is almost as eternally important as how many angel can sit on a pin. All temple sealing are based on worthiness and free agency in life and in death. This includes the faith to accept that all things including multipy marriage partners will be addressed successfully by an all loving God.

  29. I only partly jest about leaving a list. In my circumstances I think it would be important to address the after I’m gone business including the find a new spouse before I was gone. I have a friend that was single all her life, a wonderful amazing woman in her 60′s. She was very close to her sister and her sisters children. She witnessed all of their births and other important events. As the sister was nearing death she felt to counsel with her husband to consider courting my friend. She shared this desire with her children so that if their father chose to do this they would know the father had their mother’s blessing. He did as she suggested they fell in love and married. I talked to the friend and gave her my congratulations sometime after the marriage. She said she felt like the situation was arranged between she and her sister in the pre existence. They continue to be very happily married several years in.

  30. I am less concerned about my husband’s second wife (so long as I am deceased when the marriage takes place!) than I am about my children’s second mother. I would be more likely to “haunt” in the second situation than I would in the first! ;)

  31. My mom passed away unexpectedly about a year about. My Dad was recently sealed to a lovely woman who has never been married. I am genuinely happy for both of them and I was fine with it until the sealing. The sealer understood the circumstances, but spent a long time giving them advice and promises that made it sound as if my dad had never been married. I didn’t expect him to mention my mother, but I was uncomfortable that he completely ignored 40+ years of marriage and several children. The sealer made it sound as as if my dad was embarking on a new eternity that didn’t include the rest of us. Many of our friends and family members were very hurt by the whole experience. God will make everything right, but some of us on earth sure make a mess of things!

  32. Emily, I am so excited to read the rest of the story. Thanks for posting a bit of it! Very intriguing.

    Now, on to the questions. My dad’s first wife died when they were both quite young. He didn’t join the church until after her death, though she was a member. He was sealed to her before he met and married my mother. I’m not sure how my Mom feels about that, but I feel okay with everything. To me, my dad being sealed to both his wives is a tremendous blessing. I do not know how it will all work out in the eternities, but I feel certain that it will be okay.

    If I were to die before my husband, I would want him to remarry. I would want my children to have a mother. And I would want my husband to be happy.

    I don’t see myself remarrying though. I am not really interested in dealing with the difficulties of blended families. Nor do I relish the thought of dating.

    I appreciated Nate’s comments. I didn’t know that a woman could be sealed to more than one man, posthumously. It always seemed to me to be awfully unfair for a woman to be married more than once, have children with a second husband and not to have that sealing blessing extended to them.

    Hopefully, I’ll never have to think about it.

  33. Wow. I have experienced my father’s remarrying after my mother’s death. What a nightmare. My son is an estate attorney. He says many, many women marry older widowers to obtain security for THEIR children. I have stories to tell. If you love your kids do your best to outlive your husband.

  34. Years ago, I wrote a letter of welcome to my husband’s new wife, and tucked it in with my will, just in case it was ever needed. Since I didn’t realize the haunting option would be available:)

    My wife has threatened to haunt me to make me remarry if she died first, though, seriously, if she did, that would make me happier than remarrying would.

    Kris — yes, there are wicked stepmothers. I’ve known some. And there are ones who are not, I’ve known some.

  35. The only thing I really know is that I hope I get to live a long life with my sweetheart. If I died early I just want him to have joy. My Grandma died when I was 12 and my Grandpa did not remarry. He lived a LONG 15 years after her passing and he was very lonely. I don’t know if I would marry again. I hated dating and waited/searched a long time for this husband.

    My Great Uncle has been married 3 times and is sealed to all three wives. The first two died of cancer. He has a wonderful marriages with each one and each wife has brought good blessings to his family. One brought him their children. The next was a stellar grandma to young grandchildren. She never had children of her own but she claimed all of those children and grandchildren (and great nieces)as her own. She was beloved to all who knew her. Wife number three is the wife of his old age (90) but they knew each other when they were young. She was his first wife’s best friend growing up. Each wife is special and apparently he is a good husband. His family has had a rich and good life.

    My father-in-law remarried when my mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer. This all happened before I met my husband. While I appreciate that his current wife loves him, she has not embraced his family. My husband says that he lost his father too when his mom passed away. It is a great sadness to my husband and it is much harder to mourn a living parent.

    So in short, I have seen remarrying work and I have seen it fail for the rest of the family left behind. It doesn’t help me to plan for a day that might not be. I’ll just keep praying for a long good life with my sweetheart.

    One last thought. I wish people would stop making polygamy a bad word. It was a hard time for those who were asked to live that law. It has also brought many blessings and long reaching good consequences. I am a product of ancestors who practiced polygamy. I have been learning a lot about their histories and lives lately. I am proud to be a part of their heritage of faith and a willingness to to hard things. I can’t wait to meet them and to thank them for giving me courage to do my own hard things.

  36. My mom died three years ago, and my dad still isn’t ready to date. I told him, and so did my cousin who is a lawyer, get all your assets in a trust before you start dating. I’m not concerned about an inheritence (there isn’t much) but I’m not okay with some woman coming in and taking everything my parents worked for and then ditching my dad when the money is gone and leaving it to his kids to pay for the rest home. My aunts dad fell into the clutches of a gold digger at his wifes funeral, 30 years later the money is gone, she’s gone, his relationship with his kids is gone, and all that is left is hospice.

    On the other hand, my husbands grandma remarried and had a good 30 years with her second husband.

    My FIL told my dad he could marry his wife after he dies, boy did that make my MIL mad! My dad is planning to show up with a bouquet of flowers after the funeral as a courting joke.

  37. Hi, Emily,

    I’m anthologized with you in the collection and making my way through it one story at a time.

    I just wanted to tell you I loved it. Beautifully done.

    Best,

    Brian

  38. The story intrigued me, and I’d like to finish it. I found the situation psychologically true–whether in a first marriage or second, previous relationships “haunt” our current one. If you’re married long enough, you start to see your mom or your dad, or aspects of both, in your spouse, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. Previous relationships will haunt a current one if we don’t stay aware of our unconscious projections onto our spouse.

  39. About six months before my wife died, she told her sister that she hoped I’d remarry. She also left a message to me that she wanted me to find someone after she was gone. It has only been six months, but some people are already starting to press me on it, and I still feel like I should be wearing my wedding ring. I’m young enough that it makes sense for me to try to find someone, but I’m not ready yet. A few weeks ago I tried going to a Single Adults Conference, but I couldn’t talk myself into getting out of the car, and finally drove back home after about 15 minutes in the parking lot. I don’t think it would be fair to someone else right now to even consider getting into a new relationship. I also don’t know what I would be looking for in a relationship if I were to start looking now.

    If my wife were to come back and haunt the new one, I’m pretty sure she would be telling the new wife all the things I do and don’t like, and tell her she needs to take better care of me. She’d probably be more particular about any new wife than my mother was about her. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have anyone in mind, but if she did, she’d be doing the best she could to make sure that we’d get together.

  40. If anyone’s still reading this thread, it has taken me a couple of days to get back with you, but I wanted to respond a little more.

    Anonymous, it’s true that the sealing complications can seem like a heartache, I agree. It’s one of those “I do not know the meaning of all things, but I know that God loves his children” kind of doctrines.

    Sharon, I love that quote from Elder Hanks–thank you for sharing it. On the choosing a spouse, hmm, I don’t see that as universally selfish. Maybe in some people it could be; in others, it might help the spouse find someone they would not have thought about otherwise. It would depend on the situation.

    rae keck, whoa there. I think it’s way more important than dancing angels. I(t’s a subject that affects many people, and I don’t think disdain for anyone who struggles with it is appropriate. The fact that you’ve found peace and faith doesn’t condemn anyone who is still working towards that. You may disagree, but maybe next time leave the contempt out of your expression of disagreement, hmmm?

    Anonymous, I love the story you share here-that’s a good example of what I meant by it varying by the situation.

    Ana, yes, I would want there to be a good mom for my kids too.

    Daughter, oh, you made my heart sad with that story. I would have been deeply hurt as well.

    Tiffany W., thanks for sharing about your dad and your thoughts on remarrying. I hope you never have to think about it too.

    Kris, interesting about the estate attorney. And also messy.

    Stephen, “if she did, that would make me happier than remarrying would.” I love that.

    Becky, interesting story about your great uncle. It’s good to know that it can work so well. I also wish we talked more positively about polygamy, that we honored those who practiced it instead of pretending they didn’t exist or being embarrassed by them.

    m2theh-ooh, good advice on the trust. Such a sad story about your aunt’s dad.

    Brian, one of the reasons it took me so long to get back was because I wanted to read your story, which I loved. It creeped me out, in a good and eerie way, and I like the resonance behind needing to accept our true faces. Nicely done.

    Barbara–how interesting about it being psychologically true. That’s good to know. I’ll email you.

    CS Eric–Oh, take your time, and heal. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  41. I just finished reading this story in its entirety five minutes ago. It’s fantastic. We need more historical fiction like this in Mormon literature: stories that try to capture the supernatural world view that many of the pioneers held. Great work!

  42. If I die first, my husband can marry whoever he wants in a civil ceremony. If I were a woman marrying a guy who’d been married before… especially if the previous wife had been me, I think I’d rather not open any eternal cans of worms. :D

    If he goes first, I’m hiring a nanny and going solo. (Sometimes it’s good to be a sugar mama.) Dating was plenty of BS the first time around.

Comments are closed.