I WILL SPEAK FOR HIM
By Steve Capps
So much of what I feel for Gene I only truly appreciated after the fact. One thing that meant so much to me is that he knew how to listen—even to a confused, usually stoned and grandiosely deluded college drop-out. He took me seriously even while suggesting to me that I was taking myself too seriously. Rather than demanding that people see things from his point of view, he planted ideas in others’ minds and tried to nourish them there if they showed any promise of taking root.
I was surprised to discover, a few years ago, that Gene was a bit of a renegade in the Church. I learned this from a letter I found posted on the internet from Elder McConkie to Gene. I seem to remember Gene had told me it seemed a miracle to him that he was teaching at BYU, which surprised me. I had no clue why, and Gene didn’t (wouldn’t?) go into particulars. I’ve thought more than once that Elder McConkie couldn’t have known Gene all that intimately. Surely there is no sin in wondering and pondering—and even speculating. I supposed that perhaps what Elder McConkie was concerned about was the public way in which Gene went about it. Yet Gene saved at least one soul I know of, and I for one will speak for him if anyone asks for my opinion in this life or the next.
I wonder if the England family has heard that ______ is dead. He committed suicide on 11 September 2002, one year after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. And those, by coincidence, had happened on the thirtieth anniversary of my marriage to Kyle. I can’t help but be affected by the cosmic synchronicity of it all. It was a rough couple of years for me. I relived—and perhaps really felt for the first time—many of the events of our years in Northfield. I think I needed to revisit that time as part of a repentance that I had never really completed. I am emerging far stronger than I went in, so I must conclude the experience has been for my good. It has been painful, and yet at the same time liberating.
I won’t go into any detail, but let it suffice to say that back then I wanted what Gene had—a devoted wife, the comfortable chaos of a beautiful family, and deep spiritual conviction. Both Gene and Charlotte were my avatars at the time. Was that merely an artifact of the drug-induced haze I inflicted upon myself? I think not… No one can ever know, at least in this life, how much their role in my life meant to me then, and now so many years later still does.