I wonder what Heaven is like.
Sitting on the shoreline in our favorite sleepy beach town, I watch foamy waves beat into the sand and slowly break white shells into finer fragments. The water rolls in and the sun makes the surface glint in a way that makes my eyes hurt… and my heart, too. That somehow we could possibly think this all happened by chance.
For seven years, the mystery of Heaven has exceeded wonder or curiosity and reached into painful awareness that there absolutely is so much more to life than plans and places and paychecks and primetime. I woke up today and knew it was this day. Her day. Grandparents are such special people and my paternal Grandmother left a hanging presence in my heart, like when you sit down on a warm cushion, knowing someone had gotten up just a moment before. We stopped making memories together when I was around 12 and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis stilled us there. Her death five years later was when everything became real to me. When the stories from Sunday went from my head to my heart. When the songs that I remember only in her voice clicked into place and were no longer songs to sing but words to deeply believe: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine — Oh, what a foretaste of Glory divine!”
Grief can be so subtle. Josh and I were driving to pick up dinner and we pulled into a parking space. He ran inside, and I glanced across the street to the Island Public Library and its glowing yellow sign.
ALZHEIMER’S SUPPORT GROUP TUE 7PM
And there I am. 17 years old in a plaid uniform skirt on a sunny spring morning, holding her hand as the tide turned for a final time, and she slipped into the mystery. Everything changed.
At 17, I had spent the past years trying to piece together how Alzheimer’s could steal a grandmother from her girl… a mother from her children, a wife from her husband. I can’t get the picture from my head of a Mother’s Day card at her bedside, placed just two days before she passed, with my Grandfather’s handwriting in two simple lines, “All my love, Floyd.” I wrestled to understand how a loving God could allow a good woman to lose her mind while her family watched; her disease diminishing her tide and the waves rolling in slightly less each day.
Despite the wrestling to revelate, I find myself here: I am less aware of the tides coming in, and more of the current that pulls back, slowly luring the water to return to the sea. I think we make it too complicated — we’re lost at land, trying to do and say and be the right things to somehow capture the magic unicorn that is “balance.” Does the new Instagram update have a “Happiness” filter?
Maybe it’s simple: bring everything we have to our land — make the best difference we can turning our shells into sand. But in the work, in the repetition, in the swells and storms or lulls or droughts… know the current will always pull us back, because though incredible things happen when water meets land, water wasn’t meant for shore, but for sea.
I love the land, and the life I live in it. But can I just tell you how very much I look forward to the moment I am swept into the sea for which I was made for. And I hope that maybe if you’re lost at land, you’ll have the courage to find out just what’s on the other side of that current that’s pulling at you, too.
I wonder what Heaven is like.