I was to be sealed to Mother & David,
only to be sealed to another man someday.
We were linked not individually by God,
but as units,
linked to one another by His authority.
I hadn’t been touched by an angel,
but by earthly messengers,
if not their message.
Yet, was it not that message
that had shaped them
into the angels they were?
Mother prayed that God would keep Caitlin
Alive long enough to accept the gospel,
& my heart was joyful,
for she would live forever,
as Mother’s mustard seed faith
filled an entire jar.
My life could be seen in terms of insurance:
Mother was term life,
having expired long ago,
I would pay for him my entire life.
We stood on the outside,
sharing a life
while witnessing a death.
Our reflections looked like
found in one another.
I grieved for the father who had never been lost to me at all—the father I was just now finding, only to lose him all over again.
My mother had not charmed a snake, but rather, she’d beguiled an Eve in male form—a man who’d taken a bite of the apple that hadn’t given him knowledge, but rather, diminished it.
For the first time in my life, I prayed for my father to wake up & save Mother from David, so he would be saved for me.
A Church talk had freed my mother from the guilt she carried over my father’s attempted suicide, even as it would free my father from the medical technology that had kept him in limbo.
For neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, could separate David from Mother, save Mother herself.
Into my father’s ear, I whispered for him to accept the gospel in the next life, so that David would be dethroned as Mother’s eternal companion.
As my father was taken off life support, I wondered if his soul was finally leaving his body, having been imprisoned in 13 years of solitude.
I would learn that my mother had visited my father in the hospital until David had rescued her from a life of single motherhood & lonely widowhood.
I’d idolized David,
for I’d been as Mary Magdalene—
seeing my salvation in the form
of a man who spoke not in parables
of the everyday man,
but in the philosophies of the enlightened man.
Like most women,
I blamed the woman—
for her adulterous affair
with the man I loved.
She was the seducer,
the charmed participant
under her hypnosis.
For Christians, the Bible was the once upon a time,
the happily ever after.
For Mormons, it was only the story of God’s reign as God,
the story of this earth—the planet He had created,
a planet that belonged to him only because He had earned it.
The words of this modern Prophet with the middle initial
words that had become like newsprint
left on the sidewalk in the rain.
While he lived,
my father had been a stranger to me,
but as he lay dying,
& I beheld my co-creator;
I experienced an intimacy for him,
if not with him,
for the first time.
My father’s epitaph had been a lie,
engraved into a stone tablet—
just like the 10 Commandments.
Both had been used to control beliefs.
David’s wealth was prolonging my father’s life,
even as he was enjoying my father’s wife.
Like Mary Magdalene,
I’d been visiting the empty grave of
the man my mother had practically deified—
the man whose blood would redeem me
from psychological incest.
For the sake of her soul,
she would not divorce,
but she would kill.
For the sake of Patrick’s soul.
she had preserved the body by
keeping him hooked to machines—
a mechanical embalming.
Mother Mary had been Mother’s idol,
but now she saw herself as a martyr—
a saint but not of the Catholic kind.
we had visited an empty grave,
like Mary coming to see
the empty tomb.
The latter had risen,
the former had never died,
but had suffered for the sins
committed in Mother’s world.
who I’d thought a prince of a man,
an earthly king of kings—
had lain with a married woman,
whose husband he had paid
to keep alive.
Like King David,
David had kept the Fosters
a secret from Mother,
even as he had kept my father
a secret from me.
He was a complicated man,
& because of him,
I was a complicated woman.
My mother could’ve chosen to end my life in the womb,
but I could not choose to end her life outside it,
even though she had killed something inside me.
The foundation of our existence shook,
the pillars & posts of transparency tumbled around me,
& I walked through the valley of the shadow of spiritual death
in a temporal world that had become an anathema to me.
The hot chocolate that tasted like dirt wasn’t enough to steam away the winter chill that blew through the holes in our tights & openings in our scarves as we went a-caroling among the leaves so green.
We took the presence of a Nativity scene as an indication of a safe house, a friendly home, and we caroled our way through Christendom.
The glow from the tree gave the illusion of a gloriole, and it was to Mother’s light that the missionary angels were drawn.
Machines had kept my father alive, & I wondered if he was in purgatory, between 2 worlds, knowing if that machine malfunctioned, it would be the end of both his lives.
David’s allegiance to my mother hurt more than her deception; he was a beautiful accessory to her crime.
The Church admonished its members to be honest in all their dealings with their fellow man, & so I wondered about Abraham, lying about Sarah.
I had once believed in total autonomy—until I’d read the story of Pharaoh & how God had hardened His heart to bring about His purpose.
Removing Patrick from life support was in Mother’s best convenience, just as choosing not to abort Caitlin had been against hers. Perhaps she’d seen forsaking her life in the servitude of motherhood as penance for destroying Patrick’s.
The evangelicals believed Jesus changed hearts even as the Mormons believed the threat of being separated from their families forever changed behavior.
To be drenched in water that would imbue one with fire & the Holy Ghost, seemed the equivalent of firewater, & would produce the same result.
A relationship with Jesus was the foundation of Deep South Protestant Christianity; in Mormonism, it was the relationships with our families.
My gaze fell on a shiny silver ball, & it was as if I were gazing into a crystal ball—a seer stone—except I was seeing into the past.
What he was telling me now only confirmed what Caitlin had always felt & I had never wanted to believe.
My life had been a series of context clues, teeming with subtext, warning me, but I’d wanted to believe it was for love, not blood, that he stayed.
To tamper with the sacred powers of procreation outside of the marriage covenant was considered second only to murder, even if it ended in a birth.
One of the prophets had proclaimed any man could marry any woman & make the marriage work, excluding the passion St. Paul spoke of.
She wanted me to love any one of them as if they were interchangeable, & not fearfully & wonderfully made.
The idea of giving up total autonomy for eternal security seemed a small price to pay, but I could never serve a mission, for I was, unbeknownst to me, fulfilling another’s.