Joyously, that was her name. She exclaimed that her father said she was such a happy child and although others called her Joy, not her dad. He said emphatically: “Joyously” and with a sense of pride. She was Joyously to him as she filled up his life since his wife died giving birth. He explained as if talking to someone that he had been father, mother and friend to Joyously and now she was suddenly grown up with a list of friends a yard long. The hope of life was welling up in her.
I met her quite by accident when I went to a fourth of July celebration in a small city. She was responsible for the fair they were holding and she was as a busy as a bee on a bonnet of flowers. I came into the picture quite by accident. I had been sent by my company to deliver a new collapsible stage and help with the installation and tear down. Since Joyously was the fair director we worked closely to see that all was in readiness. From the start she was full of sunshine. Her education was impressive for she knew a lot about everything and spoke as if she had been born to lead.
The fair was soon over and through our association I found out she was 25 years old with a degree in Business administration and was CEO of a small company called “Bend in the River Manufacturing.” I came to find out she was a movie buff and took the name from a movie called Bend in the River with Jimmie Stewart. I found enough about her that I knew I wanted to see her again. I lived in Seattle so that meant I had a couple of hours of travel. I brushed that aside if I wanted to see her again. She was so popular that I wondered why she wasn’t married. I had a business degree but didn’t have nearly the list of accomplishments as Joyously.
As you can guess, I was intimidated by her accomplishments but her warm personality kept me at ease. I reached for the phone, called her office, and reached her secretary. It took a few minutes as the secretary asked my name to which I replied: “Sam Corker.” The secretary said, “One moment, Sir, I will tell her who is on the line. Sir, Miss Russel will be right with you.” A minute later Joyously said, “Hello Sam, so nice to hear from you. How can I help you?”
I broke out in a cold sweat, realizing what I was about to say. I took a deep breath and began talking about having enjoyed her company over the weekend and told her I would like to see her again. There was a pause and then she said, “That would be alright.” We worked out a time; I would pick her up at her home. Then I asked if she liked Roger Whitaker, to which she replied, “Very much so.” I had purchased two tickets sometime back for a live performance in Seattle. Well, I got off the phone, visibly shaken, but in a very happy way. It was summer and we would have a two hour drive since the performance was at 7 PM, we needed to leave by 5PM that Saturday.
I picked her up and we had a conversation which can be best said to be pleasing. It began with a few words: “Hi Sam, I’m looking forward to being with you.”
We traded stories about our youth and just got to know each other. On the way home I commented that Roger Whitaker sure has a pleasant voice and his concert left me wanting more. She replied she felt the same way and said, “I can’t remember enjoying a concert more than tonight.”
So that is how it all it all started and it wasn’t long before we were getting as thick as thieves. I had a happy personality and I played the piano by ear. Often I would play for her and we would both sing a song called “I’ll be seeing you.” One time while we visited I looked over at her as I played a medley of songs and, before I knew it I just blurted out: “I know you as good as if we were best pals since birth. I know you with your deep blue eyes and funny nose. I know you with your entire five foot eight beautiful figure and your velvet voice and a laugh that makes me laugh at myself and seal your lips with a kiss and saying I love you doesn’t seem to be enough but the only other way I can say it is: “Do you love me enough to marry me?” Joyously looked up at me with her happy face and said, “I have waited a long time for you and your wonderful smile and patient way of approaching things. Yes, I’ll marry you any day of the week and twice on Sunday.” That’s all I needed and kept talking until she told me: “Be still and kiss me.”
We were married six months later. By then I had met her dad, Martin, who was filled with happy thoughts for his daughter and welcomed me like a long lost friend, making me feel so special. He had never remarried, saying he was a one woman man. My family was also as happy for me and welcomed Joyously with such enthusiasm. I had two sisters and my parents. I could not have been happier.
Time passed and we had two children, Todd and Helen, who was, and you guessed it, another little Joyously. They were seven and five now, clapping and shouting when their mom said, “Let’s give dad a birthday present. What shall we get him? Several presents were picked out but the one that melted my heart was this: the two of them each drew a picture with this wording on the drawing. “Dad, mom loves you and we love you but we love you best and mom loves you most.” By then, I was working with Joyously full time and liking the arrangement, completely at ease with my wife being the CEO and I one of her assistants.
I could stop right here and cry out about our complete love and family but then things changed.
A drunk driver in a late model pickup hit my wife’s car head on when he was driving 70 miles an hour in a thirty mile Zone. I was told it was over quickly for the kids but Joyously whispered to a passenger going by who saw the whole thing: “Tell Sam we love him” and then died.
I got there an hour later when it was all over. My brain exploded with pain and my grief knew no bounds. I couldn’t move for the weight of it all. I sank to my knees, buried my head in my hands, and cried out in anguish. There was not enough room in the universe to squelch my loss nor was there any relief from the pain of separation. Later I was told that I had cried out: “There is no place to hide my grief, the quick sand has taken over, and I am sinking rapidly.”
The funeral was held and I was numb with it all. Joyously’s dad, Martin, was in no better shape. Mom and dad sat quietly weeping. The chapel was filled and hundreds waited outside. I can’t remember what was said; only that it was a large gathering.
Time passed and I had kept my wife’s company together. I had thrown myself into my work but God had taken a distant path in my life. Martin had become my closest friend and we were there for each other. Believe me, there were times when we both just sat staring into the blue. We had both lost a wife and family. Martin one time looked me in the eye and said: “A man can only stand so much punishment.” During one of those times there was a knock on the door when my wife’s dad was visiting with me. Two missionaries from the Mormon Church had dropped by. I told them I was not interested in a God who left such misery in his wake. They looked puzzled and one of them asked what had happened. I said I did not want to talk about it. Then I changed my mind and told them I had lost my family in a car accident. One of the Elders had tears in his eyes when he said: “What if you could see them again in the next life? Would that make a difference?”
I looked at them skeptically and said, “How could it be true?” I stopped them there and they quickly introduced themselves as Elder Borden and Elder White. They explained their mission and ask if I would allow them to explain more. Martin looked at me and said, “Let them in.”
The Elders explained that they would first talk about where we came from, why we are here, and where we go after we leave this probation. The pre-existence was explained and how we have earthly bodies when we come to this earth. We all die and our earthly bodies are buried and become the way of the earth. But what of the spirit which returns unto God who gave it? Martin sat back in his chair and remarked, “That explains it.” “Explains what?” I asked.
“Why I have not lost my child; I have found her.” Martin went on to say, “I know enough about the New Testament that when Jesus returned, the Apostles were frightened and supposed they had seen a spirit but Christ corrected them saying: “Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Not being familiar with the Bible, I asked the Elders: “Does that mean that He looks like he did on earth?” “Yes,” they said, “but he has a spirit body.”
Much was talked about and explained. Elder White explained an unembodied spirit is one that has not yet taken itself a body. An embodied spirit is one dwelling in the flesh. A disembodied spirit is one that has passed through this this stage of existence and has laid its body down in the grave to be finally taken up and again, uniting spirit and body. Those of the righteous never to be separated again. “Whoa” I said. “Do I understand correctly we lived with God before we came here?” “Yes,” Elder White said. “The word of the Lord to Jeremiah; “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah had proven himself in the pre-existence. Yet he still had freedom of choice. What followed led to many discussions while the Elders explained to us how our faith would insure in us the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and man can return to the Father.
The Elders visited us each Saturday for a month. Martin could hardly wait. In time, Salvation for the dead was explained to us. Martin and I sat there, stunned by what we had heard and now believed. I looked at the Elders and said: “You have told me that I will see my beloved family again.” Martin joined in and said: “I can scarce believe my ears!” He grabbed the Elders and shook their hands, then turned and hugged me. Elder Borden suggested we have a prayer and asked me to give it. I hesitated, then, with the Elders’ assurance they would help if it was needed, I began:“Heavenly Father, we have come to ask Thee for Thy blessing as Martin and I set a date for baptism. We are overjoyed that we will see our loved ones again. We are so pleased that Thou sent the Elders to us. Their special spirit has kindled our faith and brought us to tears, knowing we will soon be members of Thy church. Please let Joyously, Helen, and Todd know we miss them and we will now begin to really heal knowing they’re with you. We love Thee and ask Thy blessings to be with us. Father, somehow this cock-eyed world has righted itself. Martin has his daughter back and I will see Joyously, Helen, and Todd once more. All Heaven has landed on us and we are able to lift the load and see so clearly that eternity is not just a slogan but a measure of Thy love. Amen.”