Sunday, December 21, 2008

2 years.

A lot can happen in 2 years.

People grow up. People change. Some might fall in love and get married within 2 years. Some have babies (or maybe two) in 2 years. And sometimes things don't seem to have changed much even though they have.

Just today in the backseat of the car, my 5-year-old niece Maddy asked me, "Do you miss Papa?" out of the blue. We weren't talking about him, nor did we see any fire trucks, and we were probably just singing along to the Jonas Brothers in the car. But something triggered this question in her mind...maybe some innate reminder, maybe she somehow knew...that tomorrow marks 2 years since her Papa, my dad, has been gone.

I turned to her and said, "Of course, I miss Papa...but he's in heaven now."

Her response wasn't quite what I expected: "I bet he's mad..."

"Why do you think that?" I asked.

"Because it's probably not fun in heaven. If he's sick there by himself there isn't anyone to take care of him."

So I explained to her, amidst her many questions about fairies flying in heaven and thinking that you just lay in bed sick in heaven, that it's a good place. (Because she last saw my dad in the hospital, she has a hard time comprehending that heaven is not a glorified hospital.) I tried my best to assure her that Papa is happy there and that he's just waiting for us to join him there someday. She asked about Papa Don's wife (my grandma) being there, and I let her know that it's her Papa's mommy, my Grandma Mary, and that she's taking care of Papa there. They're both there having fun and waiting for us.

It's an interesting thing to think about what heaven must seem like to a 5-year-old, or even a younger child. I remember the morning that my dad died wondering how Cory & David were going to explain it to Maddy's 3-year-old little self. They told her that Papa went to go be with Jesus. Her response was this: "I don't like that Jesus..."

We had to laugh a little, even amidst our sadness. It was hard not to want to feel the same way. Though she didn't and still doesn't quite understand who Jesus is, I pray she'll come to know that Jesus came to give us a hope that we can cling to even when we don't want to like our reality.

When you go through a loss, even if you love Jesus, it's hard for some not to blame Him and to understand why God could take someone you love out of the world. But in all things, good or bad, there is a purpose that we cannot understand or comprehend. And we wait in hope for the day when someday our lack of understanding combined with our faith will become knowledge and sight.

So as tomorrow marks a reminder that someone I love is no longer in the world, I also remember that there is a heaven we long for, a purpose I cannot understand, and a hope I can cling to even when it doesn't make any sense. There is a place we can look forward to...where there is no more pain, no more crying, no more hurt, and maybe, just maybe...there are even fairies flying around.

While 2 years have gone by both quickly and slowly at the same time, life is much different. I've learned a lot, maybe haven't changed much, but I am surprised by the peace I've had that I don't understand and the hope that constantly sustains.

And I know this:
Heaven is only something we can imagine in this life, and at that, probably far from its glorious reality, but I'm certain that it's going to be good...with or without fairies.

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