Death. The end.
Passing on to the afterlife. Going home. Gone.
All of these things describe what has actually happened: the person or thing is no longer alive and is no longer here on earth. Their remnants are, but that is all.
Why does our western culture have such an aversion to talking about the inevitable? How have we become so averse to what will happen to us all? Is it because we feel unprepared? Or maybe it is because no one truly knows what happens in the beyond. We all have our beliefs about what may occur, but really, none of us have ventured there permanently, nor can say we say for certain: there is a heaven. As much as my faith in Jesus Christ has brought me through many of my hard feelings after Henry died, there is still that small tap on my shoulder that whispers, “but what if it’s all a lie?” and then my mind goes to: “what if it really is just ceasing to exist?”
Because I am a faithful believer in Christianity, I recognize this doubt as the devil himself (or one of his minions) trying to stray me further away from hope. He (or his slaves) are trying to hurt me, and pull me away from my Father who only wants to comfort me and console me, and welcome me in with open arms. I’ve often wondered about why Satan would pull away from God. After all, He is the everlasting Father, full of everything good. So then why would one of His angels seek to leave? How could anything be better than being in God’s presence with his Son and holy ghost? My husband says it is because of jealousy and hatred. It must have originated with Satan. Was he jealous of God’s plan for us? We were given absolute freedom to choose to follow God or live our lives the way we want. We were also made in God’s image. Could that have been why? This is also a question that we cannot answer. But, in talks with my husband, I have come to believe that Satan wants to hurt God so much, that he tries to steal away the thing(s) that God loves most. That’s us. His people.
I’ve only recently been able to say that I have firsthand knowledge of how much God loves us. My son, Henry, died a few months back (3 months and 4 days to be exact) of a rare form of brain cancer called DIPG (diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma). You can read more about that story in the About section under Henry. You see, I loved Henry more than I have loved anything else. He was my favorite. He was my friend, my buddy, my son, my comedian, my pride, and all of my smiling happiness all mixed into one child. (I do have other children whom I love dearly, but they haven’t died…yet). It didn’t matter what would happen during the day, because as soon as I got home, there he was with a smile from ear to ear, saying ‘hi mom!’ and giving me the biggest, squeeziest, comforting hug anyone could ever need. And all the troubles or successes in my life would melt away as I hugged him back, equally as squeezy. He and I would just giggle at nothing, for hours, and enjoy each other’s company. We wouldn’t need toys to play with, because our hands would become the only things we needed in our make-believe play. Sometimes my hand would become a face-hugger from the Alien movies, and I would dangle it above his head waiting for him to lower his hands so I could get him. Other times, he would tell me to tickle him, and direct me on where and how fast/hard to do it. He also had no problem telling me when to stop tickling all together, and just snuggle. This boy held my entire heart in his hands. When he was dying, I remember thinking ‘how am I to go on without my heart? How do I live without my heart?’ The answer is this: second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day and breathing all the while. Sometimes life is just that: surviving second by second while reminding myself to breathe. Sometimes it goes by so fast that hours have past and I barely noticed he was gone.
Last weekend I took my girls to Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. I had never been before, and they had an amazing sale. I actually had booked a room there for a couple of days back in January (before Henry died) and cancelled it because I needed a new laptop as I had issues with my previous one and I needed it for school. School took priority again over fun. I sometimes regret that decision because Henry would have LOVED it there, but then I remember that we did other things that were fun too and no one could have predicted what was about to happen. But man, was I ever impressed by Traverse City! It’s such a beautiful spot, right along the water, with full grown trees and blossoming cherry trees. The 4 hour drive was a little lengthy, but it was so worth it when I saw my oldest daughter’s eyes light up when we pulled into the Great Wolf Lodge parking lot. Let’s just say, they were gleaming. It went beyond my expectations too when I learned that they have an RIF (or something acronym) chip in the wrist band that made it so that I could charge all my food orders straight to my room so that I didn’t have to carry/worry about my wallet for the entire time I was there. So yeah, super highlight. (in case you are wondering: no. I have not taken any compensation for talking about my mini-break experience to GWL.)
The idea of taking a little vacation was a little unnerving because I wasn’t sure that I was ready to have a fun time and let go of my sadness. But I decided that I could still love Henry and miss him dearly while having a holiday with the girls, at a fun resort. At one point, I mentioned to my youngest daughter that I was sad that Henry wasn’t here with us because he would have loved it. She agreed and said that maybe God would let him come down and play with us in spirit so we could all be together. I told her God probably would do that if Henry wanted, but I am not so sure that Heaven, God and souls work like that. But then again, what do I know? I haven’t been there, nor am I any expert in what it is like. I do know this though: Henry has not contacted me in the entire time he has been gone. I looked for a long time, until I realized that I told him not to when he was dying. I told him that when Jesus comes, to not hesitate and go with him to heaven. I told him to not miss his boat by staying here. He was always such a good boy, I am sure he listened.
One more thing before I go: when I was looking for wisdom in the Book of Truth (bible), I found an example of how we should live, following the death of a child. It was the story about David and Bathsheba’s baby son, who died after 7 days. During the 7 days, David prayed, and fasted and did everything he could think of to beg God to let the baby live, but the baby died anyway. When he learned about what happened to his son, he got up and got back to living life (2 Samuel 12:15-23). This is the example we are to follow. When I look around, I am left alone in my grief, for I do not know anyone personally who has had my circumstance and continued on living. I have no one to follow. But I only need to look in the bible to find how to keep going on, and go on I must.
If you have read my blog today and find yourself alone, know that you aren’t. I am here (and so is God). And while I am extremely imperfect and usually sad, I am here with you to walk with you on our separate paths. Reach out if you would like. I am a good listener and would love to welcome you.