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Editor’s Note: The following is part of a series excerpted from ‘The Message From Our Side”. To see the previous article in the series, click here. To get your copy of the book, click here
After 16 beautiful years of marriage, my husband, Lance Richardson died, went to heaven, and (thankfully and miraculously) came back.
 
Five years later, at age 42, he died, and DIDN’T come back.
                                      
While in the midst of my deepest grief, I often wondered how Lance truly felt after he died. He had told me and our seven young children during the last five years of his life (between his near-death experience and unexpected death) story after story of how wonderful it was in heaven. He even went so far as to say things like, “It’s so amazing there, no one would ever want to leave!” And how he would give anything to have that beautiful, exquisite feeling of love, happiness, and peace back again.
 
After a while, I started to feel bad and asked him, “Aren’t you glad to be alive and with your family? You almost sound like you would rather be in heaven.”
 
“Yes, of course I’m glad to be with you,” Lance would always say, “but the feeling they live with there is so sweet and delicious. I don’t think I can ever be satisfied with the way we were before. I long for it, and I want more than anything for us to have that feeling too.”
 
So you can see why I wondered at his death if he struggled at all, missed us at all, or if he even still cared.  
 
In answer to my wondering, a few months after Lance died, I heard the song “Home” by Michael Bublé on the radio while driving alone and felt his presence strongly. Tears came as I listened to the words and I could feel him saying, “THIS IS HOW I FEEL!” It brought a sweet, comforting peace and also a sad happiness to know that he still cared and missed us, too.
 
On a stressful morning, seven years later, I had forgotten all about this experience. Lance, as my guardian angel, had just led me on a wonderful, surprising, and miraculous journey to find love again, and although I was now very happily remarried to the best man in the world, I found that blending four teenagers with a new step parent was one of the hardest things I had ever attempted to do. Some of my children felt that my remarriage was emotionally more difficult to deal with than their father’s death! Their feelings were not even conscious, (which made them so much more difficult to figure out) but deep down, they felt as if I had betrayed their dad and tried to replace him. Which created a whole lot of deep, misunderstood resentment toward me.
 
Although my teenagers were strong in their faith, got good grades, and were almost always obedient, they also sometimes displayed the typical teen characteristics of being a little less than grateful and respectful to parents. My new husband, Haydn, who had never had the opportunity to raise a child, was overwhelmed at suddenly being expected to understand and cope with the demands of seven children. And as a South African and an international Karate champion, Haydn’s background naturally brought great appreciation for everything we in America take so lightly and a firmly held, deeply rooted expectation for respect and gratitude. 
 
Change is painful. I could see why God wanted to bring us together and how we would, if it were possible for us to make it, help each other grow beautifully. But as the one who deeply loved my children AND my new husband, I was stuck in the middle of some pretty emotionally charged and misunderstood, complicated conflicts. I had no idea it would be this hard. All of the people on both sides of our family conflict were so, so good, yet I could not believe how much they clashed when put together in one home! My husband and I had the most beautiful marriage ever; my children were the best children in the world; and yet together, somehow, like trying to mix oil and water, our family was just not working! We were struggling, and I was discouraged.
 
To make matters worse, Haydn and I were in the middle of building a new home, and it was behind schedule. As a result, six of us were crammed into a hotel room for about 6 weeks while waiting for our home to be finished which caused family tension and financial strain. The children were also adjusting to new schools and trying to find new friends; everyone had reasons to be extra uptight.
 
The five stages of grieving go on and on, without any rhyme or reason, and although our Savior and time does heal all wounds, this new blending family thing was inadvertently and dramatically resurrecting my “angry at Lance stage.” Although I knew that none of this was his fault, much like having a bad case of PMS, I just couldn’t keep my emotions from blaming him and his death for our family problems now. 
 
I drove the children to school that morning, and as I drove back, alone, I heard the song “Home” by Michael Bublé again on the radio. I remembered what I had felt from Lance in the car with this song after he died, and I suddenly felt his presence unmistakably again. It brought tears, both of sadness for Lance’s feelings and deep, angry frustration for mine. (When the anger stage of grief  hits you, it’s as hard to understand as it is to control!)
 
I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things and the song “Home” played again in the store, but this time, I swear it was on replay! The song played continually while I shopped; I couldn’t get away from it. I struggled not to let tears fall as I hurried to the checkout. I continued to feel Lance’s presence as his feelings were emphasized over and over again through the repeated song. 
 
I went back to the hotel, sat on the bed, and began studying the scriptures. It was a sunny morning, and I had opened the window. A big truck drove slowly through the parking lot, the driver’s window rolled down, his radio loudly playing Michael Bublé’s “Home!” 
 
“HOME” *
Another summer day
Is come and gone away
In Paris and Rome
But I want to go home
Mmmmmmmm
Maybe surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel all alone
I just want to go home
Oh I miss you, you know
And I’ve been keeping all the
letters that I wrote to you
Each one a line or two
“I’m fine baby, how are you?”
Well I would send them
but I know that it’s just not enough
My words were cold and flat
And you deserve more than that
Another aeroplane
Another sunny place
I’m lucky I know
But I want to go home
Mmmm, I’ve got to go home
Let me go home
I’m just too far from where you are
I want to come home
And I feel just like I’m
living someone else’s life
It’s like I just stepped outside
When everything was going right
And I know just why you could not Come along with me
This was not your dream
But you always believed in me
Another winter day has come
And gone away
In Paris and Rome
And I want to go home
Let me go home
I’m surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel alone
Oh, let me go home
 I miss you, you know
Let me go home
I’ve had my run
Baby, I’m done
I gotta go home
Let me go home
It will be alright
I’ ll be home tonight
I’m coming back home
“Okay, okay! I get it, I get it!” I said in my mind to Lance through my tears, finally humbled enough to be able to smile at him. I knew he was trying to tell me that although he was happy where he was, he still loved us, missed us, and longed to be with his family.
 
*Home, by Michael Buble, released March 2005. Reprinted by permission of Alfred Music.
 
By Jozet Richardson Hulley, an excerpt from the book, “The Message From Our Side,” by Lance and Jozet Richardson and their children. Order your copy at www.themessagefromourside.com, or pick it up at Seagull Book or Deseret Book.