Originally posted December 17, 2011
This is completely a work of fiction based on my own thoughts. Its intent is to bring comfort on the big What If… I consider it to be made of 88% speculation and 12% hope. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Be warned – it’s quite lengthy. I guess I’ve got a lot of speculating to do.
The time had come for Marilyn to say goodbye but she wasn’t quite ready yet. There were still many things she wanted to accomplish and finish in life that would remain unfinished by her. On top of that, she didn’t like change. After all, she lived in the same house for 46 years. And now, she was coming to the biggest change since she was born and she was going to be separated from her family for a while. No, she didn’t want to go.
When her time came to leave, her surroundings grew dim. All her loved ones who had gathered around her bed became distant. In their place, another group of people, dressed in white gathered around her. At first, she was hesitant because she wanted to hold onto her earthly family. Then, out of the throng of people who were smiling at her, faces started to become familiar. She recognized her cousin Vicky. And there were others she realized she knew. Her in-laws were smiling at her. Both of her grandmas were nearby. Her Grandma Teters clapped her hands. Grandma Dyett smiled warmly but reservedly at Marilyn. But Marilyn still hung back. She wanted to return to her earthly family because she could hear their sobs and she wanted to comfort them.
Then Marilyn saw an angel make her way through the crowd. A slender woman dressed in white walked to her with big brown eyes and a warm smile. She held her hand out and said tenderly, “Marilyn, it’s time to come home.”
The sounds from her earthly family became faint and Marilyn took the outstretched hand. “Mom?” she asked unsure but it felt so good to be able to say that word again. The woman standing in front of her looked like she was only in her twenties.
Tommie nodded and drew Marilyn close to her and gave her a hug. And just like that, all connection to her earthly family was gone. As if on cue, the heavenly host who had gathered around her took turns hugging Marilyn and welcoming her home. After hugging her mother-in-law, Zoe, she remembered about her earthly family and wanted to comfort them. She turned to look back at them but couldn’t see them any longer.
“It’s okay,” Zoe reassured her. “We’ll send comfort their way. They won’t be left alone at this time.”
Marilyn nodded but wasn’t completely convinced.
Tommie wrapped her arm around her and led her out of the group. “Marilyn, you are dressed in the robes of righteousness and because of that you are eligible to go through the other veil. This is the moment you have prepared for your whole life.”
Marilyn nodded as if she understood. “But, what about my funeral? I need to comfort my family.”
“You don’t have to go through the other veil. It is your choice,” Tommie explained. “However, as Zoe explained we will send comfort for your family. Everyone that is gathered here is ready to offer aid on your behalf. Your family will feel their love and the peace they bring and will be able to receive the message that you’re okay.”
Marilyn nodded again as she listened intently.
“I recommend you leave the comforting to them, they are after all, professionals,” she winked. “And you go through the other veil sooner rather than later.”
It was the first motherly advice Marilyn had been able to receive in 45 years. She nodded her head slowly and took her mother’s hand. Tommie led her to a white veil that was so bright it almost seemed like it was glowing. A row of men stood in front of it spaced about every six feet. They were dressed in white and stared straight ahead. Each of the men looked like he meant business and Marilyn decided she didn’t want to get on any of their bad side. Ever. She felt like a shy little child as she hung back behind her mom.
Tommie said encouragingly, “Marilyn, you know what to do.”
Marilyn realized she did know what to do and slipped through the veil. She turned back to wait for her mom but her mom stayed back. “This is your time,” Tommie explained. “I’ll be waiting for you when you’re done.”
At first, Marilyn wanted to go back with her mom. But someone called her name. She turned in the direction of the voice and there He was! Everything she had hoped and believed was true. He embraced her in His arms and looked into her eyes. “Well done, thou good and faithful one.” All of Marilyn’s cares melted away and she realized her earthly family would be okay. They would be here soon enough and everyone would be together. Forever. That was the goal and it would be a reality. She knew that now. It was no longer hope, it was knowledge. She had such an overpowering rush of emotion that it felt like her heart was burning. And then she realized, she didn’t have a heart anymore. Whatever it was, it felt good.
He waited for her to finish her thought process and smiled at her. “I’m so glad you’re here,” He said.
The only thing she could do was smile back at Him. They chatted easily like old friends becoming reacquainted with each other. He asked her about her family and she spoke in detail about each family member until she realized He knew each one better than she did. She looked down at the floor embarrassed.
He lifted her chin. “That’s a sign of a well-lived life.” He smiled at her until she smiled back. “My joy is full.”
She dropped her head again this time feeling unworthy of the sentiment.
He lifted her chin again. “We have an important work for you to do. Your family will join you but we need your talents and abilities here now.”
She nodded her head accepting the assignment – whatever it may be.
“Your mother is your trainer. She will explain everything to you. If you need anything, I’m here. Remember to continue in prayer and study.”
Marilyn’s eyes got big as she understood the implication of His words.
“If you will excuse me, I have some work to attend to.”
She nodded her head and He left as suddenly as He had come.
“Are you ready?” she heard a voice behind her and turned. It was her mother.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Marilyn said and took a deep breath.
Tommie smiled. “I’ll take you to orientation. That’s where you’ll receive your assignments and your temple base.” She started walking briskly in a direction. Marilyn walked quickly to keep up and looked at her hands. They looked old.
“Mom, my hands still look old and I assume match the rest of me. But you look so young. You were older than that when you died.”
Tommie kept walking at a brisk pace. “What you are seeing is my spirit that was tucked into my body. We are just a mass of energy right now not tangible in the earthly realm. You look old right now because that’s how you remember looking. Give it a while and you will start to look younger as you forget what you feel you’re supposed to look like.”
Marilyn pushed her lips together as she thought about it.
“The same goes for aches and pains. People come here thinking they are still hurting. It takes some folks quite a while before they can forget their pains. And just be thankful you didn’t have any addictions to overcome. This isn’t the best place to quit anything cold turkey.”
“I suppose that includes chocolate?” Marilyn asked even though she knew the answer.
Tommie laughed. “Sad to say, yes, no chocolate here.”
“That could be a deal breaker.”
Tommie laughed even louder. “Hopefully not.”
They arrived at a building. Marilyn stared at it a moment. “This building looks familiar. Is it the Manti Temple?”
“Yes,” Tommie nodded her head and held Marilyn’s hand. “This takes some getting used to.” She walked through the door and led Marilyn behind her.
“Whoa,” Marilyn said. “That is weird.” She looked around at the temple and noticed it was full of people in white in the waiting room. “Busy day.” She looked closer. “Are they all deceased?”
“Yes,” Tommie said. “They are waiting for their work to be done.”
“Wow,” Marilyn said slowly. The room was a sea of white.
“Follow me,” Tommie said. “Orientation and debriefing is always in the temple you chose to do your work in.
“How long will this take? Will I have time to make it back to my funeral so that I can reassure my family I’m alright?” Marilyn asked looking around the small room.
“Your funeral is already passed.”
“But I just got here,” Marilyn said quickly.
“Time doesn’t exist here,” Tommie explained. “Your family won’t join you for some time yet according to their reckoning, but for you, it will be in a blink of an eye.”
“Oh, that sounds nice.” They approached the front desk and Marilyn stopped.
“What’s wrong?” Tommie asked when she realized Marilyn was no longer following her.
“I…I don’t have my recommend on me.”
Tommie laughed and went back to her. “You don’t need a paper recommend anymore.”
Marilyn looked down and understood. A slow smile spread on her face and she looked up. “Oh.”
“It takes some getting used to, but it will come, I promise.” They continued their way and Marilyn noticed the halls were crowded with spirits and all of them seemed to be moving with purpose and speed.
Finally, they came to a room and entered. A man dressed in white turned to face them and she was able to look him in the eye without having to look up. His black hair was slicked back. In his arms he carried a big white book and a chart on top of it. Next to him was seated a woman. “Hello, Marilyn. Welcome to this side of the veil.”
Marilyn studied the man’s face. He looked familiar but she didn’t think they had ever met.
“I am here to give you your debriefing and orientation to what you refer to as the Spirit World,” he continued. His voice sounded familiar but she still couldn’t place him. He smiled. “You’re trying to figure out how you know me, aren’t you?”
Marilyn looked down a little embarrassed. “I’m sorry, you seem so familiar. Are you one of my ancestors?”
“No,” he explained and his warm eyes made her feel better. “My name is Gordon. And this,” he extended his arm in the direction of the seated woman, “is my eternal companion Marjorie.” The woman smiled warmly at Marilyn.
Marilyn’s jaw dropped. “But how do you know me?”
“I’ve looked over your Book of Life. Impressive.”
Marilyn felt warm inside.
He smiled. “We are in the final scenes before the Savior’s second coming to earth. We are all needed in this great work.”
She closed her mouth and nodded.
“Now, let’s get down to business. This is your orientation and it will take as long as it takes. You can move on whenever you are ready. First, we’d like to hear about your life. How do you feel it went?”
She looked over at Marjorie who nodded her head encouragingly. Marilyn took a deep breath and didn’t hold anything back. She talked about her triumphs and heartbreaks. This wasn’t the time to try and gloss things over so she discussed her weaknesses and mentioned a couple of strengths. She also told about her dreams and her disappointment in having to leave so soon. When she finished she raised her eyebrows and waited for a response. It was entirely possible that she said too much.
He smiled and looked into her eyes. “You can relax, that was a good report.” He looked at the chart he was carrying, “I have a couple of callings to extend to you, but you are free to choose whether or not you’ll accept.”
“I have a choice?” Marilyn asked.
“There’s always a choice. Even here. Some people choose not continue to work and they become the proverbial harp players that people on earth seem to think we all have the time to do. The time for the Savior to return to earth is very near and yet, the myth continues to perpetuate that we have nothing better to do than to sit on clouds and play harps all day.” He took a deep breath. “I have yet to sit on one cloud.” He waited for her to smile. “But anyway, as I mentioned before, we have a couple of callings for you.”
“More than one calling?” she asked a little nervous.
He nodded. “Yes, as I mentioned before, this is a very busy period. There is still much to be done and our worker bee number is disproportioned to our drones.”
“I will do whatever is needed,” Marilyn said resolutely.
Gordon smiled. “Yes, I knew you would. That’s why we are calling you to serve as a scheduler. It will be your responsibility to make sure everyone is in the right calling and serving. We can’t afford to have any idle worker bees in our midst. It’s a demanding job but one that you have the ability to excel at. Will you accept this calling?”
Marilyn nodded her head. “Yes,” she said resolutely.
“Very well, very well. I also need to extend the calling of missionary and teacher. You will have the opportunity to teach the gospel to the spirits who have had their work done for them by proxy on earth.”
Marilyn smiled. “I love teaching the gospel!”
Gordon returned her smile. “Yes, I know. Will you accept this charge and responsibility as it has been explained to you?”
“Of course!” Marilyn said excitedly.
“Good. Good,” Gordon said unsurprised. “Your missionary companion will be your mother for now until your eternal companion joins you. He still has some work to finish on earth. Tommie is an excellent trainer. She has trained many spirits and prepared them for great work here and has been a huge asset. As I’m sure you will be.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I hope so.”
He looked at her chart. “Which temple do you want to be assigned to?”
“Think of it as our home base. You can stay at this temple or you can be assigned to another one. It’s your choice.”
“I think I’d like to be assigned to the Vernal temple.”
“Yes,” he said. “I figured you would. It’s always nice to be able to see family.” He made a note in the chart he was carrying. “Now, do you have any questions?”
“I’ve seen a lot of people here that I knew on earth but…” she hesitated. Perhaps she didn’t want to know the answer.
Gordon raised his eyebrows.
She took a deep breath and pressed on. “I haven’t seen my dad yet.”
“Jack Teters?” he asked and looked down at a chart he was carrying. “Oh, he’s still in orientation.”
“Still in orientation? But he died nine years ago.”
Gordon nodded his head. “Time doesn’t exist here. And for some orientation takes longer than others. You were fortunate in that you’ve prepared yourself so well for this. But not everybody is so far ahead of the game.” He looked at the chart again. “Ah, don’t worry, your dad is in good hands. He’s meeting with Brother Brigham.”
She pictured in her mind how that was working out and smiled. “Oh boy.”
Gordon smiled. “Are you ready to get to work?”
“I suppose I am,” she said slowly.
“You’ll do great,” he said reassuringly. “And your mother will be there to help you.”
If spirits could cry, Marilyn would have choked back a sob at the thought. It had been so long since her mother could help her with anything the very idea overwhelmed her.
Marjorie stood up and put an arm around her shoulder. “That’s the benefit of coming. Reuniting with loved ones we lost so long ago. And the reunion will be just as sweet when the rest of your family comes. I promise.” She smiled in a grandmotherly sort of way.
Gordon took Marjorie by the arm and the two walked to the door. “Oh, I almost forgot. Will you also serve as a guardian angel to your family?”
“Yes!” Marilyn said excitedly as Tommie walked in. “I was wondering how that worked.”
“Tommie will explain it to you. It was nice meeting you,” he said and Marjorie smiled her agreement. “We’ll leave you in very capable hands.” He nodded towards Tommie and he and his wife disappeared through the door.
Tommie looked at her. “I’m glad you’re through. There’s a situation that I thought you should handle. Are you ready for your first assignment as guardian angel?”
Marilyn took a deep breath and nodded her head slowly. “What do I do?”
“Come with me,” Tommie held out her hand and the two of them took off. Marilyn couldn’t tell if they were flying or just traveling very fast. The scenery was blurry and she couldn’t tell where they were going until suddenly they stopped. She recognized where they were immediately. They were in her home, in her basement, and her daughter Corina was sitting on the couch crying.
Marilyn went quickly to her daughter and tried to put her arms around her. But instead of being able to hug Corina, her arms went through her. Marilyn looked at Tommie, “What’s wrong?”
Tommie sat on the other side of Corina. “She was wrapping Christmas presents and found this tag on an old box she was going to use.”
Marilyn looked at the tag on the coffee table. It was in her own handwriting and read, To Corina. Love Mom. She looked at Tommie.
“It was from a present you gave her last year,” Tommie explained. “The shock is wearing off for her and she’s starting to feel the pain. Up until now, it felt like you were just back in Salt Lake for her. Reality is sometimes a heavy load.”
“How can I help?” Marilyn asked.
“As her guardian angel, you have the power to comfort. How would you comfort her if you were on earth?”
Marilyn thought about it. “I’d wrap my arms around her and sing, ‘Make the World Go Away’.”
Tommie nodded her head in approval.
“But I can’t wrap my arms around her,” Marilyn looked down and felt discouraged. “I feel like the rug just got pulled out from under me.”
“Well,” Tommie said. “Get a new rug. You may not be able to feel her, but try it anyway.”
If anybody else would have suggested the idea, Marilyn probably would have just scoffed. But since it was her mother, she felt compelled to try. She wrapped her arms around Corina and kept them from going through her. It started softly and quietly but she sang the chorus to the song. Corina stopped crying and sat up.
“Can she hear me?” Marilyn asked with wide eyes.
“No,” Tommie said. “But she can feel your presence.”
Marilyn watched as Corina shook her head as if doubting.
“She doesn’t believe she felt what she did. She’s rationalizing,” Tommie explained.
“Are you sure?” Marilyn asked watching her daughter intently.
“Yes,” Tommie smiled. “Because you used to do the same thing when I’d come visit you.” Marilyn looked at Tommie. “She looks a lot like you, you know.”
“And acts like me, poor girl.”
“That’s not so bad.” Tommie looked at Corina. “This would be a good time to testify about the gospel and how families can be together forever.”
Marilyn looked into Corina’s eyes. “The gospel is true. Families can be together forever. I’m okay.”
Corina wiped the tears from her eyes and looked around the room.
“She’s feeling it,” Tommie said.
Marilyn continued to watch Corina intently. “I wish I could help her.”
“You are helping,” Tommie said.
They sat together for a while and Marilyn sat as close as she could to Corina. The angels stayed with her until she went to bed.
“It’s time for us to report to your temple,” Tommie said and took Marilyn’s hand. She didn’t want to leave but followed her mother’s lead. Again, they traveled quickly until they came to the Vernal Temple. “This is your home base now,” Tommie explained and they entered the building. “It’s time for you to get started with your work. Are you ready?”
Marilyn took a deep breath and nodded. In death, she’d continue on the path she started on earth and do the Lord’s work. Whatever He may ask of her.