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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

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heaven

Where we’re headed

I’m driving. Atticus has a full tummy, and is gurgling at the view zipping behind him in reverse. Arddun is strapped in the seat directly behind mine, her awareness of her whereabouts, the general geography of Canberra, the routes we take, the slightest departure from routine ever minutely recorded and questioned.

Ever growing, ever impressive, ever exhausting.

It’s 60kmh down Northbourne Avenue, plenty of time to discuss where we’re going.

“Where are we going now, Mummy?”

“We are going to the Singapore High Commission.”

She chews on that for a few seconds. It’s dinner time, and we are not at home. She notes the quick sinking of the sun, grows a little excited that we are deviating from the norm.

“We are going to see Grandma Singapore?” She turns to a toy companion immediately to give her the news. “We are going to see my Grandma!”

“Er… no, darlin’. We are going to the Singapore High Commission. It’s a different place.”

“Where is Grandma Singapore?”

“In heaven.”

“Are we going to her house?”

“No.”

“Why?”

I pause. Do I tackle the bit about venues, or do I tackle the bit about the afterlife. Decisions.

“Because she doesn’t live in the Singapore High Commission. We are going there for dinner. There’s going to be lots of yummy food! Are we going to try new things tonight?”

“Yeah!”

(Liar.)

“And then,” she continues, “We are going to Grandma Singapore’s house.”

So we are back to that.

“Will she have beds ready for us?”

“Er… no…”

“Does she have a house?”

“Probably. A very big one, I think.” (Will you please turn your hymnals with me to “I got a mansion just over the hilltop”.)

“She’ll have beds for us,” Arddun decides confidently.

“We are not going to her house.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s in heaven.”

“Where is heaven?”

“It’s outside this world.”

“OOOOOHHHHH!” she cries, as if that finally makes complete sense. And then,

“Are we in the world, Mummy?”

“Yes.”

“Then where is Grandma’s house?”

“Out of this world.”

“Does she have a dog?”

I give a short bark of laughter. And then think about it in earnest. Dogs don’t have souls, but maybe that isn’t the way to tackle that question for now.

“Probably not,” I reply slowly. “Grandma doesn’t like dogs.”

“Oooohhh…” I imagine her nodding wisely. And then, confidentially,

“Heaven doesn’t have elephants.”

“It doesn’t?”

“No. It has squirrels.”

“Squirrels.”

“Yes,” my sagacious four-year-old replies. “And cats. And some dogs. But not elephants.”

Atticus and Arddun in car

If I were to fall asleep

If I were to fall asleep
And wake up new in heaven
I want you to know that you were always loved.
You captured my heart the moment yours started.
When you laugh, I am liquid and warm.
Your happiness is my happiness.

Today, we held hands almost everywhere
And sang Chinese nursery rhymes
Badly.
We braved the first winter winds
And talked about the end of autumn.
Today, your fly-away baby hair
Stayed tame, framed your face
And I chanced a glimpse of the boy in years to come.
You both shared a dinner for the very first time
Of congee and spinach and fish
And had a competition to see who would finish first.
(Your brother won.)
We waited for Daddy, and felt joy when he walked through the door.

I held you both in my arms today
And thanked God for my time with you
And pleaded for more
Because nothing is a sure thing.

If I were to fall asleep
And wake up new in heaven
I want you to know that I love your father.
I do not wonder or wander.
Every day, I pray for travelling mercies
Every night, for a new day.
He is a man of few words when I have too many,
My anchor when I fly off the handle.
I become a better mother to you because of him.

If I were to fall asleep
And wake up new in heaven
I want you to know that I’m alright.
If I make it to heaven, when I make it to heaven
I will be giddy with relief and joy.
(Even as I miss you profoundly.
Even when I can no longer hold you close.)
I imagine that it will be nothing like I imagine.
I hope I’ll still get to see you grow.
The world will tell you that Heaven is fictitious
Simply because it cannot fathom it.
But it is there, and I will be waiting
So promise me that you’ll never lose sight of its light
And that you’ll find your way home, too.

Your minds are still young
Your memories, still short
So that even though you touched my hands, stroked my face today
Tickled my sides for a laugh
Stuck your tiny faces in my neck and breathed me in,
You may not remember me
Quite the way you do now.

But I will never forget you.
Even
If I were to fall asleep.

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