Terry and I visited the cemetery this afternoon to order Reece’s marker for his grave. This year has always been earmarked as the year that Reece would be heading to Kindergarten. It seems strange to be ordering a grave marker versus buying school supplies and gearing up to begin the “school phase” of life. Yet here we are, playing the hand we’re dealt like any other family. We just happen to be doing things out of what would seem to be a logical order in life.
Going to the cemetery has, overall, been a peaceful experience. I have a few friends who want to bring their kids to see Reece’s gravesite–kids who knew Reece while he was here on earth. I highly encourage them and anyone who desires to do so, to visit where his body lies. It is peaceful and meaningful and not a scary experience. We know that Reece isn’t lying in the ground; we know that his body is there, but Reece isn’t there. While Britta has been told that Reece is in Heaven (she still brings up Reece being in the hospital), she does not have any association of Reece being buried at the cemetery. We will have to do our best to explain this in some meaningful way while the girls are so young, so that they will accurately understand that we honor Reece’s earthly body by burying it in the cemetery, but that Reece is, in fact, in Heaven with Jesus. When we tell Britta that Reece is in Heaven, she smiles and points up, and says, “With Jesus!” It is a lovely thing to see how joyful she is when we tell her where Reece is…it isn’t a sad thing in our house. Although, as the girls get older and gain a better understanding, there will certainly be tears over this reality.
I’ve been thinking intensely about Heaven, basically every day, since Reece’s passing. It seems unnatural to have Reece located somewhere that I have not checked out for him first. I want to know what it looks like, where exactly he is playing, who he is hanging out with. I want the details! I’m not worried about it; I just wish I could actually see it. I guess my imagination will have to fill in the gaps that exist between the details laid out in the Bible. Never has my mind and imagination felt so limited as to picturing the daily details of Heaven and Reece living there.
I read a book a couple of years ago called, “Heaven is for Real”. It’s about a boy who, at three years of age was very ill (a sudden and acute onset), and claims that he went to Heaven for a very brief period of time while he was in the hospital. I highly recommend you read the book. The information this boy knew regarding his family members, after having this experience, was otherwise inexplicable. He describes Heaven in detail in this book and, while I read it prior to anything happening with Reece, I very much felt that this is a true story. I think God uses kids in unique ways. Reece was touched by God–much deeper than we will ever know–but enough for me to understand that there was communication that occurred that we were totally oblivious to as parents. We only saw the tip of the iceberg with him. Anyway, I read the adult version of the book a couple of years ago, but was given the children’s version of the book the day of Reece’s memorial service (thank-you, Kate!). I paged through it a day or two later and it brought tears to my eyes. No, this is not the Bible, so I have to be careful to not count on every detail being the God-breathed truth. But to see the illustrations and information given in such a pure and simple way, and then picture Reece there, was a moving experience for me. While Reece knows God and Jesus, he is still a kid. He sees things from a kid’s view. It touched me that he perhaps is experiencing Heaven in a similar way and would describe it as such; it brings me deep contentment to think of that. With that contentment comes healing and a great deal of comfort.
One thing that I think is interesting about this boy’s account of Heaven is that he met his great-grandfather there as young man around the age of 30. This is a man that he never knew on earth. His account of Heaven includes that no one is old there and that there are many children in Heaven as well. As a mom who said good-bye to her son as a five-year-old, I very much desire to be reunited in Heaven with Reece as his five-year-old self. I miss his embrace as a healthy child, uninhibited by his gravely ill body. And I love that, according to this child’s account, it is possible that no matter what age I die at, it is probable that in Heaven I will be a similar age to what I am now–the way Reece remembers me on earth. I love that. Even if those details aren’t the way our reunion occurs, I love thinking about it that way while I am here. Regardless, the reunion will be awesome! And, as my good friend pointed out to me, I get to take a tour of Heaven with my five-year-old–through my child’s perspective. Who doesn’t want to explore something with a child? They have such a unique and fun way of looking at things. I can feel his excitement about Heaven right now, even though he is no longer physically here!
In all of my pondering, I’ve concluded that Heaven gets inaccurately pinpointed as a place that will be whatever we want it to be, as a function of our self-seeking and pleasure-filled daydreams. For me, that mindset is a trap. When I was a kid I used to think that when I got to Heaven I would sit around and eat cheesecake every day, because it was my favorite food. It’s comical for me to think about it that way now. Maybe cheesecake exists in Heaven, but I’m thinking God has a bigger purpose for all of us than sitting around on a chaise lounge eating creamy, sweet, decadent, mouth-watering desserts. It doesn’t seem logical that he would spend all this time with purposeful intentions for us here and then we get to Heaven and just hang out all day doing nothing but whatever we feel we should be entitled to do. I don’t think it’s a place that we do whatever we can imagine as fun here on earth. It’ll be better than our best dreams here, but we can’t imagine it. And so in terms of Reece, I do my best to envision what he is doing. I know it includes much time praising God. I never, ever envision him in his sick body–he is healthier than any person walking on this earth. He is perfectly healed and I know his energy level is even higher than his healthiest day on earth. Still, I am grossly limited by my human imagination; it is frustrating. Patience is a virtue I struggle to possess and so, as life would have it, I am tasked with learning how to do what seems impossible for the rest of my time on earth–wait.