We can probably all remember a phone call that changed our lives.
One of those phone calls for me came 24 years ago today.
It was a Sunday morning. I was at church, conducting a children’s meeting.
Doug came in, looking very somber, and motioned for me to come out into the hall.
I instantly knew something was wrong.
My mind quickly raced through the possibilities.
I followed him out of the room, and we walked toward the Bishop’s office.
There was a heaviness in the room and a serious tone that told me I was about to receive very bad news.
The Bishop was standing behind his desk, holding the phone.
He handed it to me; and, I reluctantly said, “Hello?”
“Bless your heart,” said my Uncle Sherm in a broken voice. “Here’s your mother.”
“Laurie,” Mom said, not mincing any words, “Dad died last night.”
I didn’t hear anything after that.
I’d just seen my dad. He took me to the airport and carried my luggage to the gate. He was fine and very much alive.
“What?” I asked, stunned and frozen.
“Dad died,” she said. “I woke up this morning, and found him dead.”
My dad was 57 years old — a year younger than I am now. He died of a massive heart attack.
That one phone call changed my life.
Sometimes I wish the phone would ring and I could have a conversation with him — five minutes would be good. Or how about 30 seconds? I’d take that too.
I might not be able to talk to him, but I believe he’s around — not physically, but spiritually.
How could he not be?
Our love for our families is too deep, too permanently planted in our souls for us to just float off to another realm and forget about them.
So it only stands to reason that God would allow our family members to stay close.
I cannot imagine us sitting comfortably on a cloud, polishing our halos, waiting patiently for the rest of our families to sail up and join us. God’s got to have more in mind for us than that, and it has to include some spiritual closeness to our families.
I cling to the words of the LDS Apostle Jeffrey Holland, “God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face…From the beginning… God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children.
“Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near.”
I haven’t seen my dad, but I surely have felt his presence — even if it’s just through a memory, a song he loved, a fisherman that looks like him or someone who knew him that shares a story about him.
There was a time I worried that I couldn’t remember what his voice sounded like. It bothered me that I couldn’t remember. Then, one night, while sleeping, I heard his familiar voice say”Laur, it’s time.” I woke up immediately because I knew that voice. It wasn’t like a fuzzy dream. It was as clear as it was when I was a teenager and he would call up the stairs to wake me up in the mornings by saying, “Laur, it’s time.”
Sometimes I wish that would happen again.
Better yet, I wish the phone would ring, I’d answer it, and he’d be on the other end.
Now, that would be an unforgettable phone call.