Mother and David were like eloping teenagers, and I, their unmarried, childless friend, who was forced to witness a choice that I knew would end in doom.
A baby grand sat in the corner of the room; on top, sat a picture of Jesus. For some reason, it made me think of a picture of a woman’s late husband. “I guess He’s the witness,” Caitlin whispered, and I held back a laugh.
The preacher’s daughter sat on the witness chair, telling Mother, “I hope I can have more than one husband, too, but not at the same time, of course—not like the Mormons.”
“David, when I think of you, I think of the guardian angel who came to us all those years before, bearing good tidings of great joy.” I did not see Pastor Taylor’s right eyebrow almost fly off his forehead, nor the shock on Mrs. Taylor’s face, nor the curiosity on Carolyn’s.
My vow was simple. “You’ve not only been my father but my educator, edifier, and friend.” I refrained from saying savior.
I had reached back inside myself, back to that girl I used to be, whose dream it had been to see the two people she loved most in the world married. Through her eyes, I could see this as she would have—as an occasion for celebration. How happy I would have been a year ago, before I ever knew the Church, yet it was because of the Church that we were here at all.
That night, David told Mother he would love her for eternity, but only I knew that he meant that his love for her—not their marriage—would abide forever. I could not portend what had been in his heart at that exact moment, but I knew who David was at his core. That was how I knew their marriage would last for time only, and a fleeting time at that.
Pastor Taylor spoke a few words, Mrs. Taylor stone-faced, Carolyn starry-eyed, and I, pledging my allegiance to David Dalton under the banner of heaven.
Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley: An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.