Mormon was one of the only survivors of the big, terrible, Nephite-ending battle. His city was destroyed and he wept for the roads and the buildings. His dog and his horse were killed, and he wept for the animals. His friends and his soldiers were killed and he wept for them because he could remember how beautiful they had been when they were still living. But most of all he wept for his family, his wife who had been taken away and his son who was now one of the unknown bodies lying lifeless on the ground.
Everything he had ever loved or cared for was gone. His own body was injured and he could feel it slipping out from under him. He was old already. The world was not what he wanted it to be. He was ready to die. And so he sat on the ground and waited for the Lamanites to come and find him.
But then he heard a voice. It was young and strong and more than a little familiar. It was his son, Moroni. There he is, across the battlefield, stumbling over bodies, looking at dead faces, calling, “Father, father! Where are you father?”
“I’m alive,” Mormon yells back. The boy looks up, and runs to his father. They are both bloody, sore, limping. But all is forgotten as they embrace. And Moroni helps his father to walk and Mormon takes Moroni to his cave where they hide from the Lamanites and bandage each other’s wounds. And Mormon is glad to be with Moroni. And he pats his hand, and looks at his face, and thinks, “You are my beautiful boy.” And Moroni is glad to take care of his father.
Mormon’s wounds were severe and his face was pale and so Moroni made soup and fed it to his father, trying to make him well. But Mormon would never be able to run again. He could not run to catch a rabbit. Or run to get water. Or run from the Lamanites. And the Lamanites were looking everywhere for Mormon and Moroni. Soon enough, they were bound to find the cave.
And so Mormon knew he was going to die. But he wasn’t ready anymore because he did not want to leave his son alone in the world. And so before he died, Mormon took Moroni to the back of the cave where he uncovered a stack of metal books and said, “These are for you. They will keep you company when you are lonely. They will be your friends when there is no one else. And they will be your family when you have none.” And then Mormon reached into a bag and took out another book, brighter than the rest, made of gold. “This is my book. Take the books and run far away so that no one will ever find you.”
“I will take you and the books,” Moroni said.
Mormon shook his head. “That is impossible. The books are as heavy as I am. You cannot take us both. And if you take me, I am dying anyways. Metal is much stronger than skin. And if you take the books, in a way, you are also taking me. And you will save my life. Not for a few more years but forever. Because someday, people will read my book, and they will know we were here. And that we were here with Jesus.”
And Moroni cried and took the books, and looked at his father one last time, and ran away.
And Moroni wandered around all alone for years and years and years, with nothing but books for company. And he liked to read his father’s book, but sometimes it made him sad to think of his father. And so he read the other books. And one of the other books was sadder than the rest. It was called Ether. And Moroni learned that he liked sad stories. He could relate with them. They were his friends because they could understand his sadness and give voice to his sorrow.
And sometimes, when he read these stories, he would forget he was alone. But he was alone. And the book was cold and not warm like his father’s hands on his head or his mother’s kiss on his cheek. There was no one to talk to, no one to sing for, no one to play with or love.
And so Moroni decided to imagine there were people around him. The people his father talked about. The people who would live hundreds and hundreds of years later. The people who would find his father’s book and read the stories. And these people became his imaginary friends that he talked with and cared for and even wrote them letters. And he put these letters in his father’s book, along with the sad stories of Ether.
And we’re telling you this because you should know: the stories that we are about to tell you, the stories that come next, they are often sad stories. But they are important. They are important for us and they were important to Moroni.
Because it is important to know that some stories are sad. And sometimes praying and fasting and asking and telling and begging God to stop bad things from happening, doesn’t actually stop bad things from happening. And that does not mean God is not working. Because a sad story can still be a sacred story, just the same. Like this book. Like Moroni’s lonely life and his sad stories that were his friends.
Because God is not the opposite of sorrow or pain. These are also part of God. He feels them too. If you are sad or lonely or hurting, you might think that God has left you or even left the world. “But,” Moroni wrote in one of his letters, “God is still a God of miracles.” And because God is here and is working, we will laugh again and dance again and find so much joy again.
But first, there is sadness. First, there is death and grief. It’s coming in the next few pages. And if you don’t want to turn the page because you know the story is sad, you should know that it’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to be nervous. But you should know also that everything is going to be okay. Know that there is sacredness in grief like there is sacredness in joy. And know also that when you turn the page, God will be there, too, like a miracle.
All artwork by Lauren Blair.
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