Thursday, October 6, 2011
Dancing with wings on and pets at your feet?
I went to a funeral today; the one who graduated to Heaven went there way too early in my opinion. He left behind a 5 year-old and a 2 year-old. And as I watched the five-year-old this morning, I saw her smiling, hopping around her mom after the grave side service, tugging at her mom's hand - quiet but happy - and I thought, "She doesn't understand."
And she probably doesn't. Certainly she has no concept of the crushing weight of grief that her mom carries right now. Or how bleak the days ahead may look to all of the adults in her extended family at this time.
I thought about how you would tell a five-year-old that her father had just died. And I remembered many years ago when my husband sat down beside David, who was four at the time, and said in a very gentle voice, "David. Today is a special day... Nana got to go be with Jesus." At the time I was touched by the tenderness in my husband's voice and by the naivete of David's reply: "Did she get her wings already??"
On the day of my mom's funeral, we gave David the option of going to the service or of going to pre-school. He chose the latter and when a friend of ours picked him up from school that afternoon, he told her that his Nana was in Heaven. And then added, "And I bet she's already seen my cat!"
When my husband and I heard this later, it was the first time since mom's death that we actually just broke down and laughed! My mom had a phobia about cats, absolutely loathed them and could hardly stand to be in the same room with one!
As I thought about all this, it occurred to me that while little ones can't always take in the gravity of death, still they do get some things right; things that us grown-up Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve maybe don't get right. Namely an open-eyed wonder at what their loved one is going to get to do in Jesus' House! The thought of having wings is pretty awesome when you think about it. And if you like pets, the thought of being surrounded by your favorite furry friends would also be awesome. These things, to a child, would be something to celebrate.
Maybe we don't get wings in Heaven, although according to the book, Heaven is For Real, we do :) But still, the Bible tells us enough about Heaven for us to know that it is going to be amazing: the things we'll get to do and experience (as well as the things we won't have to do or experience..) are literally beyond what we can even imagine on our best days down here. Truly something to celebrate.
So maybe it takes both an adult's perspective and a small child's to fully grasp the terribleness and also the awesomeness of death; our final enemy and a source of tremendous pain - yet at the same time our entrance into a more fantastic existence than we can ever imagine.
At any rate, I think the image of a little tow-headed, sweet-faced girl, quietly hopping around her grieving mother's side will stay with me for a while. The mom, as is totally normal, trying hard not to break under the weight of sorrow. The little girl trying to dance to music that we adults used to hear but no longer can?
I don't know. Really I have no clue what the child was thinking. I just know she looked radiant while the rest of us looked sad.
Just wondering if little kids are more in tune with Heaven's perspective than the rest of us. And how does it go? A little child shall lead them?
At any rate, praying for the family and knowing that what is not possible for us, is possible for Him, trusting Him to bring them through the tough days ahead. Knowing that someday, we'll all be dancing in Heaven.