A strange occurrence became stranger still yesterday as I pursued the origins of a mysterious slip of paper in my mailbox.
Usually when I get one of those yellow notes from the postman, saying he tried to deliver a certified letter (and here are the options of how to get it to me) I get a sinking ugh-y feeling in my stomach. This time was no different. Usually “certified” means “legal,” and usually legal can’t be good. There was no sender’s name or address listed and only a parcel number to go by. So I went to usps.com, entered the number and got my second clue: It was sent from zip code 84070. I knew that zip– It came from Sandy, Utah.
My mom lives in Sandy. So does my ex-wife. The ugh-iness lurched again.
I called Mom and asked if she sent the certified letter. No, she said, but she did get an unexpected call from my ex last month. She wanted my new address.
I hadn’t spoken to my ex-wife in years. In fact, the last contact I had concerning her was a letter from her bishop, asking me to sign a consent form to release her from our sealing. When I called him about it (having heard nothing prior to this notice), I learned she wanted to do the work for her second husband and be sealed to him. “But he was Catholic,” I said, not really protesting but still trying to make sense of it, “and he committed suicide.” “What difference does that make?!!” he barked. Well, gee… nothing I guess. So I signed the form, mailed it off, and that was that.
I don’t have the patience to just wait to solve mysteries tomorrow, so I called my ex (ever talk to an ex after several years? It’s weird). After very brief pleasantries I asked if she sent me a certified letter. “No,” she said. “It’s probably from my bishop.” And then she told me the story.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who was less than impressed with her now-former bishop. Eventually she came to learn the paperwork (including my signed consent) sat in his desk for 6 months. Then when he finally did send it in, the response from Church headquarters was a solid “No.” Basically they said, You are still young and might meet someone with whom you want to share eternity. In other words, if you change your sealing and then want to get married in the temple again one day, you’ll really muck things up.
She went to her bishop, angry. She wanted to talk to someone. She wanted to understand why she couldn’t do what she wanted to do. She hadn’t been on a date in eight years and she wasn’t about to start hubby-shopping now. She wanted to talk to an authority. He suggested a therapist to address her anger (wasn’t this guy a peach?).
So she let it go. It took her a long time to go back to the temple. Why do work for others when she wasn’t even allowed to do work for herself? But go back she did, resigned to the idea that maybe it would all get sorted out in the next life. I was proud of her for that.
Eventually the bishopric changed, and the new bishop happened to be the man who personally performed her deceased husband’s baptism and endowment. He called my ex in and asked if she wanted to try it again, send the papers in to the Church. He thought that since time passed, perhaps the Lord would see fit this time to consent to her wishes.
So when I come home tomorrow evening, I expect the form will be waiting for me.
You go to church long enough, you eventually stumble into rules, caveats, amendments and judgements you never saw coming. They can be manifested as solutions or challenges– hopefully always as learning experiences. Sometimes, as in my ex’s case, they can fly in the face of an assumption, such as free agency. A sister in good standing wants to be sealed to her deceased husband (the one that took) and is told she can’t, for no other reason except that she’s still too young and should keep her options open. I guess that makes sense from a practical perspective. It’s a hard pill, though, when it’s a beloved partner you’re talking about.
And what about me? I’ve still got to tow her sorry butt to heaven.