Fifteen months and four days ago, I lived through a day in the town of Rock Springs Wyoming, first where the weather broke a sweltering 80 degrees, then changed to rainy, then came a rainbow peeking out of the mountains. I remember the weather, the moments, the details and the feelings of September 4, 2013. I woke up early, ready for the day, because this was no ordinary day; it was a day I was going to have an unforgettable time.
I realized I wanted to look spectacular and became skeptical with what I was wearing. I decided to request approval for my wardrobe choice. As I stepped out of my room that morning, I went right over across the hall to one of my older brothers’ rooms. My brother Eric was kind enough to say, “Yes” to my flung on outfit. I felt, as I went in and out of our rooms, that I was playing the reality TV show, “Say Yes to The Dress”, except I really hoped for perfection. I bugged Eric more than he ever wanted to be bothered, but we both came to conclusion to say, “Yes” to the dress. I left my sisters’ and my room in a stir of fashion with shirts and clothing strewn about the desk, beds, dressers and floor.
I climbed in to my beater car as memories of holding to the iron rod, reading together through the months, swept over me. The old car was started. The hood was buckled down with bungee cords, so it would not smack the windshield. The windows worked, but there was no air conditioning. I put on so many miles from my town, Green River—where I lived--to the neighboring town, Rock Springs—where he lived--with this junk on wheels. I felt like I could drive there with my eyes closed. I continued to reminisce and recalled a New Year’s Eve dance. This was the first glimpse I had of this guy. I liked to dance, but I sat in the corner in the shadows, attempting to be an observer. He saw me and asked me to dance. That was when our friendship had begun. The road in between our neighboring towns became well-traveled. The drive from my house to the place I was headed took about 25 minutes, but September 4th the drive seemed to linger extra-long. That day the drive became a metaphor for the narrow path we read in the Book of Mormon, and our eminent separation was because we clung to the iron rod and forsook the great and spacious building we had learned and relearned about. Our mutual goal was to have our destination be the Tree of Life. So, as my heart was being stretched, I knew joy would come.
Turning the corner to my left I saw the home of my best friend. I looked my finest, I held to strong memories, I clung to the hope of the scriptures, and I stepped out of the junk heap, grateful the door did not fall off when I closed it. I turned to walk to the door and was surprised with a face, a recognizable face, poking in between the crack of the door. I recognized him as this valiant guy I grew close to, but now he glowed with the countenance that was not ordinary. I saw the kid I had traveled miles back and forth to be with, but before me was a man prepared to save souls. His blue eyes looked through me. He was prepared; He was ready. Jozef Hunter became one of the best friends of my life. He and I spent many days do everything and doing nothing. We made commitments of standards, we studied the scriptures, we prayed, we laughed, we wept, and we held the happiest memories. There were times where we traveled along the path, holding to the iron rod and could see clearly the Tree of Life. There were other times where the mist of darkness surrounded us, but we forged ahead clinging to the iron rod, maintaining our footprints on the path. There were times when the great and spacious building beckoned, and there were times we held to the rod of iron to avoid the filthy water. We clung to the iron rod, and we cherished each other. We had a tight bond. Now, was the time for sacrifice and obedience. This was the day, the day we both new was coming. At the end of this day, we would part .It seemed as though the day would never come, it was surreal. But this was the day we would say, “Goodbye for Now.”
The sky was full of sunshine, and it was happy. I considered the feelings of those who partook of the Fruit of the Tree of Life feeling happiness from decisions well made, forgiveness, and loved ones. This was a day of joy. We made a full day of memories as the sunshine turned to rain. We had one last dance in the rain, just like when we had met. His house was in a cul-de-sac. We had the whole street to ourselves for this one last dance. The smell of fresh new rain hit the ground and a warm heated asphalt street made for the perfect dance floor. We danced until the time came that we had to tell each other those three simple words. Saying those words was so hard to utter. I felt like I had to wring them out; I did not want to say goodbye.
I remembered once again the New Year when we had said, “Hello.” Now, with a collection of memories, it was necessary to say, “Goodbye for now.” I slowly drove away as the tears fell outside and in. Then, I saw it: a rainbow. God’s promises are sure. After the storm, the rainbow does come. After holding fast to the iron rod, the destination of the Tree of Happiness will come. After obedience, there will be blessings.
“Goodbye for now,” was the hardest thing I have ever had to say to someone. I have eight months and twenty-one days left until I get to say two words to him, “Welcome home.”