Remember, Remember

What words are there to say tonight?

How will I squeeze my spirit back into my skin tomorrow morning, when Monday morning rises with the sun?

Where will I look when I cannot see his eyes, and who will warm my hand?

That man has turned me into a girl, and a sappy one at that.

The last week could not have been more amazing, more real, more romantic, more tender, more anything than it was.  It was amazing, and I remember every detail as if I painted postcards in my mind.

I remember our first meeting, how I squealed and ran to him, and how his face lit up, and how we knew each other from our hearts, just as had been promised.  I remember how perfectly we fit together, and how our hands said hello.  I remember how the light danced on the lake, the path that we took on the walking trails, and the way the leaves danced against the sky.  I remember how the air cooled for us, how the evening made us cozy, how the birds and the ducks and the geese and the dragonflies welcomed us to our park, the park that will always be ours.

I remember meeting his parents, and how they were as kind as the light in the Savior’s eyes, and how the welcomed me most gently, and how they blessed me with open arms and friendship and so much love.  I remember how it made me cry, good and healing tears, to feel so loved and wanted and belonging, so welcomed and honored and real, so velveteen.

I also remember those rosemary potatoes at dinner, because they were AMAZING.  Ha!

I remember the smiles on their faces, the sounds of their laughter, the smell of their garden.

It was love, of the shiny sort, of the gospel sort.  I was happy there, and I knew it.

I remember the porch swing, how his father cleaned it off, and his mother invited us to sit there.  I remember how the door was left open, warm and inviting, and how the light was on inside so that we would be safe (and good) outside.  I remember how he held my hand, and how all was well.

It melted me, that day.

This was good because the next day pretty much puddle-ed me all together.

I remember how I screamed in excitement to see that Bartlesville was yarn bombed, because Nathan and I had just talked about it, and I couldn’t wait to finish work and show him the surprise.  I remember how his face lit up when he saw it, and how we walked from tree to tree and soaked in the colors and textures of the installation.  I remember how amazing the BBQ tasted, mostly because Nathan was sitting across from me.  I remember how we talked, how we shared, how we revealed our spirits the way the yellow is always in the leaves underneath the green.

I remember the moment he met my mother, and how he put his arm around her, and how well they loved each other from that very first moment.  I remember how he helped me clean the vegetables for dinner, and how tender was his touch on my shoulder, and how he made my mother laugh.

There is nothing a girl loves more than to see a smile on her mother’s face, her eyes twinkling with laughter.

I remember the sacrifice of time and energy (and gas!) his parents made to join us for dinner, even though we hadn’t planned it.  I remember how it felt to watch them meet my mom, to realize my mom was meeting them, to be astonished that we were all becoming a brand new family, all of us together.  I remember how kind they were to us, and how my mother shared our stories, and how we began to know each other as family.

I remember how I excused myself from the group to go get ready for the ballroom dance, and how for the first time in my life I tried on a gazabillion dresses before I could settle on one that felt as amazing as he made me feel.  I remember how I had to call my mother in to check me, to make sure I was okay, to give her approval before I stepped out in front of Nathan and his parents.

I remember what it felt like to dance with him.

I remember how sweetly he cared for the little ladies at the dance, how he joined in the “waterfall” dances, not being possessive of me, and still participating on his own.  I remember how he introduced himself so bravely, so fun-ly, so happy-ly.

I remember what it felt like to dance with him.

I remember when my dance teacher, the very man who introduced me to the church, the very one who baptized me, came over to shake my Nathan’s hand.  I remember when his wife, my best friend from those dark days, the one who texted hours into the night just to lead me to the Light, I remember when she saw him, watched him dancing with her mother, watched us dancing together, and nodded her head at me in approval.  I remember when I thought of this couple meeting him, of how far the Lord has brought me, that he would in this very ballroom rescue me from such a state as I was in and waltz me right up to the doors of the Temple for my very own sealing ordinance three years later.   I had a little cry at the thought of it, of how much has happened in these three years, at what the gospel has done in my life, at how much He loves me, at how much he loves me.

I remember what it felt like to dance with him.

I remember how after the dance, we walked around the building to the place that sells custard.  It’s a stand-alone place, and we walked through the drive through.  I remember how the lady laughed at us, and how we laughed at us.  I remember how falling in love tasted a little bit like peanut butter and bananas.

I remember how we walked back around the building, and sat at the table and chairs by the dance studio, eating our custard and talking, talking, talking.  I remember the slow and sappy Bette Midler song that played in the background:

You’ve got to give a little, take a little,
And let your poor heart break a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.

You’ve got to laugh a little, cry a little,
Until the clouds roll by a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.

As long as there’s the two of us,
We’ve got the world and all it’s charms.
And when the world is through with us,
We’ve got each others arms.

You’ve got to win a little, lose a little,
Yes, and always have the blues a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.

I remember holding his hand as we walked up the stairs to the pedestrian bridge then, and walking together out over the water.  I remember the sweet couple that stopped to take our picture for us.  I remember the sound of the waves, the roar of the water pouring over the dam, and the downtown lights flickering in the river that has been my home, this place where I first read the Book of Mormon, this river that nourished me and kept me alive, this river that changed everything.  I remember our first little kiss there.

I am glad we had a practice kiss, because the next morning we spent several hours taking engagement photos.  I could not blog about that until we we were official, but it was Bethany Meyers that did our photo shoot, and she made us kiss A LOT.  It was so sweet to include her, as it was her father who was the Bishop when I was baptized.  But that was a lot of kissing, even if it was pretend kissing.  My goodness.

He took me to see “Brave” after, and I remember our discussion about it afterwards.  There is no fairytale or myth in any culture in the world that has a mother in it, because mothers are that sacred (and that hard).  This is the first one to surface in public mainstream and acknowledged in any kind of oral or written format, and that in itself is profound.  The mother and daughter characters are still separated by the mother’s transformation into a bear, so we as a whole still cannot hold the duality of our mothers’ natures all at once.  While our object relations may still need developing, at least we are verbalizing the dichotomy.  I remember the discussion we had about this, and how Nathan could dialogue these things with me, how he understood the profound-ness of a woman writer pulling off such a feat, and how he could verbalize its significance.  I remember being pleased to have found a man who can “run with the wolves”.

I remember going to eat my favorite salad. I remember our normal moment of real life, having a break between all our formal introductions and meetings and necessary tasks on such a limited time schedule while in the same time zone.  It was as for a moment all the pressure was off, and we could just be us, without all the formality.  It was lovely and delightful, not just because of being romantic or sweet, but because we could be exhausted and still find each other, rest and not lose each other, be weak and still be “enough”.  We rested, even him taking a nap while I finished work, and then me taking my own nap.  It was real life, just for a moment, and it was was good.

I remember cleaning up then, headed back out to a dinner.  I remember being grateful our evenings were structured so that we could get ourselves in Order and keep ourselves engaged in good and appropriate activities.  I remember dinner, which was with the Johnsons (my stake president and his wife, who have been so good and kind to me) and the Masons (the Institute regional director something and his wife, who were my first gospel principle teachers, and have been like my spiritual parents).  I remember what a miracle it was, coming full circle to be presenting my Nathan while the Masons were saying farewell (moving to Georgia next week), and growing up into this gospel state of becoming a couple.  It was good for us, and we learned a lot.  I remember all the marriage stories they told us, the marriage lessons they taught us.  I remember the prayers we said, the laughter we enjoyed, and the friendship testimony in my heart.  I remember experiencing the feeling of having him next to me, of being a part of him, of being in awe to be at-one.  I remember the dinner question (“How have you felt Heavenly Father specifically placing you in life – in the bounds of time and space – why here, why now – what are you doing with it, what has it meant, what has He called you to do within the context of your own life – and what is the evidence of it – all these amazing questions!), and how each person shared their testimony of their own answer.  I remember the things Nathan shared, and what I learned about him, and what it felt like to hear his testimony and to see how he learns and to see his progress in becoming himself, the Nathan he was created to be.  I remember the feeling of vulnerability in my own answer, in my own sharing, in my own testifying.  I remember the at-one-ness that came as we did so.

I remember the blessing my “fathers” gave to me, with Nathan, and what it was to gain a testimony of Nathan’s own priesthood-ness, and to feel that power come to me in blessing and as a part of who we are.  I remember the tears of relief and comfort and joy at the thought of having the gospel in my marriage, of having the priesthood in my husband, of having access to the atonement – for repentance, for forgiveness, for empowering, and for enabling – so that we might do and be all things marriage-ish, and what a mighty grace this is for it is so impossible without it.

I remember the love I felt for him as we drove home for the night.

I remember waking each morning excited to see him again, but especially Saturday morning when I was going to take him to meet my brother.  I am so proud of my brother, and I love him so much, and he was my best friend growing up, and he married my best friend from junior high, so it is special to me for these that I love most to meet and share time together.  I remember our drive there, and the nerdy Jungian talk, the symbol-teaching, the family stories, and the time to just be ourselves.  I remember taking him to Joplin, and telling him the story of the tornado, and telling him pieces of that experience that I have never told anyone.  I remember how tender he was with me when I cried.

I remember how he was with my family.  I remember how my family was with him.  I remember the love I feel when I see my brother and his wife and their family, and the delight I have in watching them be a family.  They are the greatest miracle, the best thing – along with my mom – and the best part of my life, even if they are all the way in Springfield.  I remember being grateful for their willingness to have us over, even though my brother and his daughters were exhausted (and smelly) from girls camp.  I remember being grateful for Nathan’s willingness to drive more hours in the car, to meet one more group of people, to spend a whole day away just to be able to spend time with my family.  It meant so much to me.

(Side note:  It is funny that we discovered Nathan went to school with one of my niece’s father.  Small world!)

I remember driving home again, and debating with Nathan whether we were ready to eat dinner or not.  I remember us deciding to wait, and heading back towards Joplin.  I remember how good it felt to have such good things to say about my family, and to share those pieces with him, and for us to be sharing so much family-ness.  I remember the feeling when suddenly it seemed we needed to stop NOW, and the feeling when both of us felt it at the same time, and the feeling when we pulled over at the very exit we were passing.  I remember the sound of Nathan’s voice saying to stop the car, and me just literally stopping right in the middle of the driveway where we were in the parking lot.  I remember wondering what was wrong that we couldn’t decide or know what was happening, and just needing to stop.  I remember the feeling of the car and the sound as we started to move forward again, and realizing that our tire had shredded – not just flat, not a slow leak, not something stuck in it – but shredded.  I remember watching the tread fall off, and the feeling that came to know we could have been seriously hurt if we had not heeded the promptings to pull over when we did, if we had still been going 80 miles per hour.

I remember the feeling of understanding opposition would raise as we got closer to our “temple date”, and the knowing that fell into me that now more than ever would be necessary to maintain power, to increase in power, to accomplish that ordinance – and to keep the covenants we make doing so.

This isn’t a game.

But what delight hard work can be, and we worked together on changing the tire, without delay and without fuss and without frustration with each other.  It was a great test of our new relationship, to see how we would solve problems, how we would face challenges, how we would engage each other when things happen unexpectedly, are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and not fun.  Oh, and hot.

We did it, though, and quickly.  I was very proud of us, in a thank-you-for-the-Spirit kind of way.

I remember laughing at the tire mess on my hands and clothes as I cleaned up in the bathroom, and then laughing harder when I came back up and saw Nathan wasn’t even dirty.  Classic.

I remember how it was in the parking lot, right there in Joplin, the Steak and Shake parking lot (my mother thought that was hilarious, that it was Steak and Shake of all places), that he asked me in sign language if I would marry him.

I remember how I didn’t answer the question, just laughing and telling him that he was sweet.

I remember how he had to ask me again, and how then I realized he was serious, and how I squealed and hugged him and said yes.

I remember how he sat next to me while we ate dinner, and the delight with which we shared the news with our friends.  I remember being grateful for him, for having someone who knows family and friends are important, and that they have raised us well and deserve to celebrate this moment with us, and that we honor them by doing so.  I remember realizing I had found someone who helps me stay instead of running away, who teaches me to love my friends instead of hiding from them, who honors me by honoring those who are important to me.

I remember realizing that each little experience like that was like a testimony growing, that each moment we shared made me love him more.

I remember our drive home, and how we took the scenic road away from the interstate, through the little towns and along the small highway.  I remember the tall trees along the path, the curves in the road, and the little hills that raised and lowered us along the rollercoaster of our unfolding life together.  I remember how giant the bright red sun was as it set, and how the symbols of our love surrounded us in the most sappy way.

That’s what happens when writers fall in love, Nathan says.

I remember the feeling as I realized it was our last night together this trip, and how I pulled slowly into our park, our park, as if slowing down the car would make time slow, too.

I remember the way he reached for my hand as we walked toward the lake.  I remember the reflections of the trees, the flickering of the moon in the water, and the fireflies dancing around us.  I remember the moment he pulled out the necklace and gave it to me.  I remember the fireworks.  I remember when he gave me the ring.

I remember the miracle of how it fit me perfectly.  Perfectly.

I remember crying, fighting back tears I had wanted to cry all week, and knowing once I started I wouldn’t be able to stop, and forcing them back for that moment – not to deny them or ignore them or refuse them – but to honor them by putting them on pause until the time was right, until they would be mine alone, my joy and my burden on my own, for choosing love and loving my choice.

I remember walking back to the car, the drive back to his parents, and greeting his parents.  I remember their celebration with us, the taste of the crystal light, the jokes we made, the ideas we had.  I remember texting my mom and my friends, sending the news and the picture of the ring while waiting for my phone to charge enough I could blog it.  I remember him saying we needed to blog it before I said it, and being in awe at having someone who honored my words and cherished them, who recognized the record they would become, who loves me for being me, who loves my words for being mine.

I remember the feeling of loving him.

I remember how he walked me back to my car at the end of the night, our time to say goodbye, our last night of farewell.

I remember the shape of his hands in the “ILY” sign, waving goodbye in sign language the way we do.

I remember driving away from his parents’ home, so full of love, so very loved.

I remember waking up the next morning with a ring on my finger.

I remember throwing my processors on my head so I could run to my mother’s room and talk all things girl, tell my story one more time, show her the ring, and celebrate this amazing thing.  I remember being so full of love, and feeling the buildup of tears still coming at me, being overwhelmed with love for her and overwhelmed with gratitude that she and I are together and at-one to share these mother-daughter moments.  I know it is a grace of my Heavenly Father, a gift of the eternal sort.

I remember getting ready for church, in awe that I had in-laws on the way over to my house.

I remember how they arrived just as I was finishing getting ready, how his mom iced the cake, and the stories she and my mom shared.

I remember sitting at the table, with these people that are my new grown-up family, of feeling this is who we are, and it is good.

I remember how it tasted like Christmas, and I said so, and how I thought we’ll all be together then.

I remember how his father took our pictures, the funny adventures and laughter we shared trying to use our homemade tripod to take a family photo using the timer, all squeezing in under the family proclamation words.

This is who we are, and it is good, very good.

I remember Nathan and I riding with mom to church, meeting Nathan’s parents there, and what it was like for all of us to be there as a family.  I remember my friends coming to meet Nathan, and to see the ring, and to hug my mother, and to shake the hands of his parents.  I remember being proud of this my family, in an astonished-at-the-atonement kind of way.  I remember being grateful for all these friends who have guided and counseled and loved me into this place that has become my life, these people who have become my family.

I remember the feeling of sitting between my fiancé and my mother at church, to hold their hands, to feel their love, to be filled with love for them, to look down the row to see my new mother, and a new father, and to be in awe of that beyond what I have words to describe.

I remember the feeling of driving to the airport, holding his hand but not being able to look.

I could not look and hold back the tears at the same time.

I remember thinking it just is, and knowing that I understood when I chose.

I looked at the ring on my finger, and I knew I had chosen, and this was part of that choice.

But I also remembered the blessings we have received, and the words of promise we have been given, and the comfort I felt then.

And I believed it.

I do believe it.

I understood the part it plays in preparing us for future service, future work, future callings, and I understood my agreeing to this – even being grateful for the preparation now, so that I will be really strong then, able to access the power needed for those future tasks when that time comes.

I also knew that the reason my heart stung was because the love we share is so very, very good.

It was hard and sad to send Nathan back to New York City because it is so very good to have him here.

That is joy.

That is happiness.

And it is good, very good.

And so with tightly held hands and very brave smiles, we walked him into the airport and all the way to security.

Blinking back tears, the kind getting warmer and warmer trying to fall, we waved goodbye as he got through security and disappeared down the hallway to board his plane.

I watched my phone as we drove home, just in case he texted.

He did, just before his plane took off.

I love you, he said.

I knew it was true.

I knew I loved him, too.

I knew I would remember it, and not forget it.

I knew I would remember him, and his family, and not forget them.

I knew I am – we are – he and I are – creating a new family, and that this is the beginning.

I think that the hard months of geographical transition that are ahead will not be nearly as hard as the first thirty-five years apart.

Our spirits are united and at-one, finally permitted our reunion in mortality, and there is so much to remember, so much to remember.

And it is good, very good.

Posted in Dating permalink

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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