Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.
On the Saturday we were waiting for my mom to breathe her last, many family members came to visit. My daughter-in-law Cassandra made a delicious lunch for us all. She also brought James and Lucy, two of my grandchildren, to say one last good-bye to their Great-Grandma Jo. They had visited her many times over the course of the six months. But little Lucy and I visited her together every Wednesday after Bible School.
The visits often included a special lunch date. Some lunches we ate in the hospital or nursing home cafeteria. Some were shared at a hospice house, where we dined with others at a gigantic table. And a few were just Lucy and me eating a burger at “the blue top,” as we affectionately called one of our mutual favorites.
Lucy often had questions about the journey my mom was on, but she asked the sweetest one the morning after my mom died. “Grandma, did you get to see Grandma Jo fly to heaven last night?” The question delights me still.
I explained to her that I was with her great-grandma when she left for heaven, but that you don’t really see people “fly.” Her blue eyes sparkled as she processed that little snippet of detail about dying (as much as you can when you’re only five). She had lost her great-grandma Sally not so long before, so this was not completely new to her.
Shortly after my breakfast conversation with Lucy, I was seated at my desk reading my Bible and morning devotional book. As the Sunday morning church bells rang around the corner, inside my mind I could still hear the sound of my mother’s heart beating, over ten hours after she’d left for heaven. What a sweet and merciful God! The One who keeps watch over his own, day and night, in sickness and in health, in life and death, was there with me. With us.
As I write, I’m in Rochester, Minnesota, waiting for an appointment at the Mayo Clinic to have my own heart looked at more closely. I got my father’s singing voice, and his imperfect heart. Tomorrow morning it will be exactly 4,665 days since I laid down on an operating table here and had my brain aneurysm repaired. It was February 1, 2008. The journey that God has taken me on since then has been sweeter than I could have ever imagined. Some of it has been recorded in the blog posts that I’ve written – before the pain and confusion that blanketed our land in March with the appearance of the new coronavirus.
My mother’s funeral was on March 7th. It was a beautiful send-off shared in the company of family and friends. My heart breaks for all those who haven’t been able to have a funeral like that over these past eight months. Many whom I love and hold dear didn’t even get to see their loved ones before they died.
I suppose that it is why I stopped writing for a time. There weren’t words to express what I was feeling. It makes my heart long keenly for heaven more and more.
It is my sincerest hope that the damage revealed in my heart tomorrow will be repairable. I want to live and to keep walking out the days of life and faith with my family, mentor, ministry partners, and cherished friends. I am so grateful to have close companions to share the journey with!
Our hearts are hurting. We need you so desperately, Father. If I would be counted as one of the few who don’t live through the procedure tomorrow, I’ll be delighted to fly to heaven.
A note for my dear Momma: If there are ballet shoes in heaven, I want to put some on when I get there and dance with you, in our new, perfect bodies. The ones that are and will be without sorrow or pain.
And in closing, I’ll quote one of my baby brother’s favorite things to say to my mom at the end of their frequent telephone conversations, until the last one shared before he died in September last year: “Thanks for life, Mom!”
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.