#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

I did not want my mother to die, but I wanted David’s love for her to die, for that would be much preferable to hers for him dying first.

Though he had allowed himself to walk into the waters of baptism, he would never walk through the doors of the temple. 

Under the banner of heaven, I pledged my allegiance to David Dalton, but would never recognize his allegiance to my mother.

It was a jubilee of sorts—the tinkling of our fluted stems signaling the beginning of the New Year & of the best years of our lives to come.

It wasn’t the vow David made to my mother, that he would love her, but rather, the vow he made to God to never leave me, that showed me his heart.

Mother’s redecoration of Maxwell Manor resembled the Mormon temples that were open to the moral elite, rather than the Catholic cathedrals that were open to the unwashed masses.

Mother had put off the natural woman to put on the spiritual, for in her eyes, the 2 entities could not co-exist, for 1 would always rule over the other. 

As she drew closer to God, she withdrew from us, even as David & I grew closer than ever.  A part of me still feared losing him if he completely lost Mother.

I had never heard David thank God for anything before, save that night in the hospital, & I wondered, if, in his own way, he was changing, too.

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#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

My mother had lost her virginity & heart to David; I would lose only one of these to him.

Mother saw emotional self-flagellation as a form of atonement for adultery, but she’d only denied David marriage, not sex.

Like David, the great king, he had taken a woman who had belonged to another, except that David, according to Mormon doctrine, had been barred from the celestial kingdom forever.

David Dalton, like that same David who had slain Goliath in his youth, had been responsible for my father’s death?

My intake of breath was acute, as if the sharpness in Mother’s words had floated upwards & entered me, cutting me up inside, so that I bled.

I prayed not for God’s forgiveness, but for my father’s, for wishing he hadn’t been mine.  Had I been David’s, Mother would’ve loved me as a mother should, for I was the ball & Caitlin, the chain.

My disappointment overshadowed the love I had for them, & it ate at me—not the disappointment itself, but that I allowed my disappointment to be so great. 

A CTR (or “Choose the Right”) ring in the Mormon Church was akin to the “True Love Waits” rings the Protestants wore.  Both were centered on remaining pure before marriage & would no longer be worn after marriage, for it was assumed that as long as people got sex, even if it was only with one person their entire lives, they would be pacified.

The revelations in the yard hadn’t just told me I had lost my mother, but that the mother I loved & admired hadn’t existed at all.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

We were in our own little world—a world in which Mother did not fit.  Even as she & David belonged together, so did David & I, in our own way, in a way the 3 of us together never could.

Empowerment was allowing myself to believe in something I could not see, & yet, to believe in something greater than ourselves was to be under their rule.

I was not called, but given a calling.  I was to work for the Church for free, & pay them on top of that for the opportunity to do so. 

Mormons assigned callings, & I realized how many tentacles they had—through 3-hour church services, Enrichment meetings, Visiting Teaching, Institute, & now, a job in the Church.

I knew then that he didn’t believe the Church was true—he loved a lie because it was a beautiful lie—a lie that gave him power over those who were true believers.

I bore false witness that the Church was true, & prayed for God to have mercy on my soul if I was right.

There was something creepy about a grown man asking me if I’d been obeying the law of chastity, for what happened between a man & a woman in the bedroom was between them, & no one else but the God who had made them.

God had called me to serve in the nursery, something I knew nothing about.  Just as He’d called Noah to build the Ark.  Yet how easy it was to say that “God said.”

I didn’t question.  I knew better than that, for as it was said, so it was believed:  When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

David was my watchdog,
for beware,
he’d always said,
to churches asking for money—
that filthy lucre—
to these tax-exempt businesses
that were more interested
in saving one’s soul
than one’s life,
in praying for you,
thus passing the buck to God,
rather than doing something to help you
themselves.

For the answer to the prayers
of many Mormons
were different than the answer
to mine,
so who was to say that this person
or that person
was praying in the wrong spirit?
For my answer had come in a dream,
not from a feeling.

I became a checklist Mormon,
for it was more important what we did,
rather than what we believed—
just as our salvation was more about
what we could do,
than what He did.

Mother had been as Jacob,
David, Leah,
for he’d come unto my mother
masquerading
as her beloved Patrick,
& lay with her.
But David did not labor 7 years
for her;
he’d simply waited.

I saw the Bible as truth
through allegories.
I didn’t see Adam & Eve
so much as real,
but as representations
of every kind of
humankind.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

No one from the LDS Church knew of the quickening of Patrick Nolan’s soul to the Spirit World.  It was the saddest, strangest day I had ever spent.

The funereal funeral was a secret affair.  No one knew Patrick Nolan had died—that Laurie Nolan had been living in mortal sin for 13 years.

Caitlin & I did as we were told, Caitlin, still grieving & I, taking no delight in what I had dreamt of for as long as my eyes had beheld the glory of David Dalton. 

In the B.C. era (before the Church), I had wanted Mother to marry David, but in this New Era, I realized 2 wrong people were trying to do the right thing.

The glories of the terrestrial & telestial heavens shined their pallid light upon us as David knocked on the pastor’s door, bearing redemption on the other side.

A baby grand sat in the corner of the room, the top of which sat a picture of Jesus.  For some reason, it made me think of a picture of a woman’s late husband.

Swiss clocks adorned the high walls, chiming ten, creating a clamor, signaling that the hour of reckoning had come.

To write one’s own vows was to promise more to one another than even God expected, & so it made sense that David & Mother had written their own.

We were to become a blended family, but our mixture would remain homogenous.

“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 said.

Truth is its own magic: A Mother’s Day message

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When you’re a mom, some of the things that come out of your mouth may sound strange:  “Don’t chew on Jesus,” “Will you just hurry up and poop?”, and “Stop putting chicken on your head!”, are some of my greatest hits.

As I was getting my daughter ready for bed the other night, thinking about what I wanted to read to her (praying she wouldn’t mention Minnie, as in The Mouse), the Beatitudes of Jesus came to mind.  I realized then that I’ve spent so much time reading and singing to her and teaching her the things she will need to know to get on here–like letters and numbers, saying “thank you” and not littering–that I hadn’t focused much on the religious part of her education.

Thinking back, that’s exactly how my parents raised me.  For them, church was something you needed if you were an ass.

When I was in high school in the nineties, a lot of kids were self-proclaimed “Jesus freaks,” wearing “True Love Waits” rings and WWJD bracelets.  There was a lot of talk about the rapture and born-again virginity.  Church was their social life, Praise and Worship music their vibe.  Some of them even carried their Bibles around at school.  

Just as Felicity (remember that WB show?) followed a boy to college, I, a freshman, followed a senior boy to his church.  One evening, after service had ended, we sat in a pew as he led me through the salvation prayer, and I was like, “That’s it?  Are you sure? It’s that easy?”

I had been expecting a feeling–a total transformation like Saul’s to Paul–and now I wonder when Jesus told Doubting Thomas that (and I paraphrase) blessed are they who don’t see but believe, that “see” could also apply to “feel.”

Four years later, I joined the Mormon Church.  All the good feelings I had expected to feel when I had gotten saved, I felt then, but who isn’t going to feel good when they’re around so many friendly people who open their hearts and homes?  Even though it’s been years since I sent my name to Salt Lake to be expunged (er, removed) from the records, I will admit that the Church made me a more spiritual person.

In the Church, I was taught that the glory of God is intelligence and yet, according to these same people, for those who had mental challenges, the devil could not touch them. 

To my understanding, a lack of mental capacity (e.g. intelligence) saved a soul.  It seems contradictory, and yet, it somehow makes sense to me.

As I gaze upon my child, I see that light and intelligence.  She knows so much more than she communicates, which can be frustrating, but I have learned to overcome the need to explain why she is the way she is to people who don’t know her–to explain why she doesn’t respond when people ask her her name–but then, I have had several people who’ve taken one look at her and ask if she’s autistic.

I may never know how much she understands, but I do know that I will teach her everything I know and believe, whether it’s that adverbs are the enemy of good writing or that respect doesn’t have to be earned but it can be lost.  (You don’t disrespect people until they “earn” your respect.)

I’ve striven so much to give her a magical childhood through imagination and storytelling.  (Children’s author, Nancy Tillman, is a master at this.)  Nearly every night, since my mom passed from this earth, I ask my daughter to tell Grandma “good-night” and “I love you” and to blow her a kiss.  And then I seemingly catch that kiss in midair, letting her open my hand and take it; sometimes I place my palm on the crown of her head–a blessing from Heaven.

Of course, I don’t really know how things work up there, but part of parenting, for me, has always been teaching truths with just a pinch of magic.

C.S. Lewis did that very thing with his Narnia series, just as I will someday do with mine.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

mormoni

For he would love her for eternity,
which meant he was lost to me forever;
he would take her to the temple,
& only through Mother’s death—
not his—
would he be able to obtain
a second sealing.

To watch an atheist in prayer,
was to witness a truth—
a truth that was shielded with the lie
that there was no God,
but rather,
the idea of Him.

The New Millennium
ushered in a New Era—
an era of women’s meetings,
of volunteer callings,
& enduring to the end.

David did not promise me many mansions,
but one.
He did not promise me his mansion,
but a room in it—
a place at his table.

The Church was the lie
that led me to the truth
that was David Dalton’s
everlasting love.