The Sacrament of Grief

Merear, Domine, portare manipulum fletus et doloris… [1]

Both too early and too late, the phone rings. It is after seven o’clock in the morning when Elder Latu picks up the receiver and mumbles a groggy hello.

“Yeah, let me get him, President.”

The magic words. I am suddenly awake. There isn’t much time, so with my hand covering the mouthpiece I run through a few vocal exercises (who knew those lessons would come in handy as a missionary?) making an attempt at not sounding like I just woke up. The success rate of these games is doubtless pretty low, but they are mission etiquette; pretending slightly greater obedience than we practice is really part of how we show respect for Pres. Lawson. He returns the favor by pretending not to notice, and we are both saved from the unpleasantness of chastening. Even now though, part of me wonders if this is what dropped the sheen of awkwardness between us during mission interviews, dangling there like a theater scrim or the grille of a confessional.

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