|From Mimi's garden at 2709 Rockview in Waco.|
Ps 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
The sky is a soft robin's egg blue. The sun is sparkling above. The air is fresh and clean this morning. Wake up, pear trees! Wake up, daffodils! It's Spring!
My sister, Kathy, slipped away to Heaven on a brisk January morning. Just after Christmas, the villainous leukemia cells snuck back into her marrow with an unexplained vendetta and began doubling, tripling, and quadrupling by the minute. The medical protocol quickly changed from fighting the cancer to fighting the pain. We heard those dreaded words, "Keep her comfortable." She drifted into a drug-induced coma for a couple of weeks. On January 19th, she woke up early. In Heaven.
Her passing was quickly followed by flowers, singing, and one hundred thousand-ish hugs. From her funeral, we sped down I-35 to be with my Aunt Wanda and cousin, Sherry, as they buried beloved Uncle Billy whose death of a heart attack was quick and unexpected. After all of the hubbub and hoo-da that surrounds death and funerals, I returned with my little family to Lubbock and tucked myself away for a long, intentional hibernation. I turned away from the world in search of Peace and Joy with a stubborn certainty that that they no longer existed. For weeks on end, I did not find them. While the boys were busy at school, I sat alone in my living room. In total silence.
I "wallered" in my emptiness and in my pantry. "Oh, I wish I could have one more glimpse of Kathy and Uncle Billy," I wailed digging my hand into a bag of Wavy Lays. "If I could just talk to Kathy for one more minute! Just ONE minute!" I moaned shoveling Cocoa Krispies into my mouth. I tried my best to fill my emptiness with comfort food. Thirty pounds later, I was still empty, and I was fat. Fat and empty. Run down. Colorless. Boring. Worthless. Not fun. Not fun at all. The Cheetos had failed me. The buttered toast dripping with orange marmalade had flat out lied to my face.
I sullenly realized that I hadn't even passed Kathy in the world of my dreams. Before she left me, she was often a character in the shenanigans of my nocturnal adventures. We laughed, we ran, we played tricks on our mother. Now, even in the bliss of my sleep - she was nowhere to be found. "God, show her to me! You have the power to open the door of Heaven! You can totally let her peek out from behind a cloud to call out a quick 'Hey!'" "Hey!" was her phone greeting. "Hey, it's me!"
Then, one morning, I woke up as Alan was getting ready to head to the bank. (I'm not a late sleeper. He's an EARLY riser.) "Allie, listen! If something happens to me today, I need for you to know that I had a sign! Kathy talked to me in my dream!" The look on his face shouted, "She's finally done it. She has gone wall-eyed crazy." "Listen to me! I need to tell you about my dream!" "Oooookay," he replied sitting on the edge of the bed.
We were at a huge family gathering at my Aunt Florence's house. There were two odd things about this gathering at that house. I don't have a huge extended family, so apparently, somewhere along the way in my dreams aunts, uncles, and cousins popped up from nowhere. It's unlikely that we would have had this gathering at Aunt Florence's. I won't say that she was a hoarder, but she didn't waste a thing. If she kept something long enough, it would end up serving some sort of purpose. I guess that she was "green" before being green was cool.
The house was crowded with people and stacked up newspapers, magazines, and shoeboxes. We milled around shoulder to shoulder balancing sweaty glasses of iced sweet tea in one hand and plates loaded with baked ham, potato salad and some sort of red, congealed, canned-fruity something in the other. The mood in the house was happy and relaxed. We had settled in for hours of visiting and reminiscing when there was a knock on the front door. Actually, it wasn't the door-door. It was the screen door.
A message was passed from aunt to uncle to cousin until it reached me. "Carolyn, someone is here to see you!" Wiggling through the crowd, I made my way to the door. A man who was a stranger to me stood there motioning for me to join him on the porch. He talked. I listened. "Kathy is here to see you. She can only see you for a few minutes,' he said pointing to a tall hedgerow that bordered the side of Aunt Florence's white clapboard house. Without a word, I walked toward the hedge. My heart was racing. Why would this man single me out for such a malicious prank? Why would he put me through the agony of seeing nothing? And yet, I continued.
The air was fresh and the sun was shining. And, there Kathy was standing before me. "Hey!" she grinned. She was white light and delicate. We laughed and hugged. I scooped her up in my arms and began to carry her. She weighed less than nothing. "Tell me about Heaven! What is it like?!" I asked with tears streaming down my face. "Ooooooh, Heaven! It is hard to express in words the glory of Heaven!!" she began. As I carried her around Aunt Florence's back yard which was filled with a hedgerow maze, she told me of the streets of gold and the glassy sea and the brilliant light that never darkened. "When you get there, God pairs you with a guide! The guide shows you all around and introduces you to all of the 'biggies,' Moses, Abraham, and, of course, Jesus!" She glowed with a deep happiness and peace which passes all understanding.
After a few minutes, she told me that she had to get back to Heaven. "God chose me! I get to be a guide today! I can't wait to see who he will partner me with! It could be Billy Graham or ANYBODY!" Her joy was complete. "What about Uncle Billy?! How is he?!" I asked knowing that Aunt Wanda would appreciate news of her life's love. "He's awesome! He's playing his saxophone and having a blast! We see each other all the time!" she assured me. Then, she told me it was time to go. She had a partner to welcome into Heaven. You'd have thought that she was bidding me goodbye before stepping onto a luxury cruise liner embarking on an around the world tour. Her eyes were bright with excitement. We kissed and hugged. Tears were streaming down my face as I set her back on her feet. Slowly she and the man drifted away and were soon out of my sight.
"Alan, I may be Kathy's partner in Heaven! If it's not me, then it's probably going to be Billy Graham! But, I think it might be me! If I die today, please tell this dream at my funeral between 'Blessed Assurance' and 'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing!" I commanded. "Ooookay," he replied, "But, Pinkie, I don't think that you're going to die today." "Well, I'm just sayin'...in case!" "Okay. If you up and die today, I'll make sure that someone tells the dream," he said trying to pacify me back to sleep.
Kissing me goodbye, he headed out the door, briefcase and cup of coffee in hand. I laid back on my pillows and began to take inventory of my vitals. I was breathing effortlessly. My heart didn't feel the least bit "attacky." I didn't have a terrible, unexplained headache. Hmm. This could get interesting...or violent!!! Then, I began to dread the pain that I might feel when the robber stabbed me with my favorite Wusthof chef's knife. I had to laugh envisioning myself looking over my shoulder all day and looking both ways 10 times before driving through intersections with green lights. What a day was spread before me!
Much to my surprise, I didn't die that day. Or, the day after. Or, the day after that. But, my senses were heightened by the thought of "last time" experiences. I hugged the boys tightly and showered them with motherlove before driving them to school. I stood in the backyard and praised the tiny blades of new, green grass that were pushing up from underneath the dry, brown blades of winter. I breathed in the clean, cool Spring air and swished it around in my lungs like I was tasting a fine wine. Life was good. It was worth living. Even if I had only a few minutes left before the robber popped out of my closet door with that big, sharp knife.
The sky was a soft robin's egg blue. The sun was sparkling above. The air was fresh and clean that morning. There was no intruder to be found in any of the closets of my quiet home. Believe me. I checked. Wake up, pear trees! Wake up, daffodils! It's Spring!