Jon and his father with Jeffrey under the Northern Utah sky on July 24, 2015

A few weeks before David died, he and I were on the phone talking about summer plans. He knew we would be out west, but since he was planning on visiting us this fall, he said he’d just wait to see the kids in October.

I had called him with some good news- Jon and I had just received our clearance to be sealed. We’d been anxiously awaiting the letter; the process had been drawn out and challenging, and when it came, we both dissolved into tears of relief and joy.

(For those unfamiliar with Mormon ceremony, while we had already been civilly married for more than a year, our marriage was only “till death do you part”, and not given the church blessing to be binding beyond death. In practical law, it means nothing, but spiritually, it matters to Mormons. The letter meant that the top three leaders of the church had considered our request, and agreed that our marriage could be sealed in the temple, and that my children could be ritually adopted into Jon’s family, in a sealing believed to transcend death. It’s a big deal to Mormon families, and is why so many Mormons want their kids to get married in the temple.)

David fully understood the importance of sealing, and he enthusiastically encouraged me to seek the clearance. He liked Jon, and he was so grateful for the stability and family the kids would have with him- and said so openly. He told me he wanted the kids to have what he couldn’t provide, and he knew their sealing didn’t in any way effect his relationship as their father. It simply meant more people who would love and support them. His generous heart made my calling him with the good news a joyful occasion.

While we were on the phone, he asked how to give his permission for the sealings to take place. The temple had sent me a form for him to sign, and he asked me to email it to him immediately- I did, and while we were still talking, he printed it. Twenty-four hours later, it was on my doorstep. I had suggested he just mail it to Jon’s family in Utah, where were going to be, but he said he wanted it to be in my hands.

Thank God for his kindness and generosity.

Thank God for both of our willingness to forgive, and to put our kids first. Neither of us had any idea how short the time remaining was; I have never been so grateful for our decision to take the high road with each other, no matter how hard it was.

So when I got the call in the pre-dawn of July 24th, David had done everything in his power to provide for his children in the only way he could- he gave his blessing for them to be adopted in and loved by Jon’s entire family. Jon’s family encircled us, and loved us and held us up during those dark hours and days following that morning.

Amid the devastating loss, we were also left with awe-inspiring hope. We had not just my family, but a whole new family who was holding us tightly, and who had embraced us with loving, willing and open arms. And my children knew they could accept this love, this family, with their father’s blessing, and without reservation. The ultimate gift.

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