Birthdays in Heaven

Happy Birthday Baby,

I’ve been wondering what a birthday celebration in heaven looks like. I would imagine you get amazing gifts, a perfectly moist cake, and maybe you get to ride on a cloud or something. I’m sure our little homemade birthday parties wouldn’t measure up. Do you remember how mommy would make a beautiful cake, and have games and crafts prepared? Then I would hold a big cardboard cutout and you and your friends would throw jello at me. Those were fun days.

Today would be a big one for you, the day you officially became an adult. Eighteen. You could have voted in the next election. You always wanted to do grown up things and hated having to be the last one to get to do everything. But you got to see heaven first!

I miss you. It’s been five years since you died. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but it is an eternity when you’re separated from something you desperately want. It’s a hard life to know the one thing you want will never, ever happen. It’s a paradox – to want and can’t have. I’ve learned a lot about paradoxes. They’re a kind of contradiction and you probably don’t have them there. But a grieving life is one big paradox and lots of little ones.

The master paradox is one of steps. Every day feels like a step away from you. I’ve walked 1836 of them now and with each step, something is lost. Sometimes I have trouble remembering things about you and that breaks my heart all over again. But the flipside of this paradox is that every step is one closer to the day I’ll see you again. And that brings me joy.

We do have good days now. In fact, they probably outnumber the bad ones. It’s odd; sometimes having a good day makes me feel a little guilty, I’ll be honest. Like I’m moving on or something. I promise I’ll never forget you and I’ll never get over your loss.

You’re a huge part of everything I do, and so I wanted to say Happy Birthday. We’re all wearing yellow down here for you and doing something kind for someone else… like you always did.

I love you,

Daddy

 

 

 

Dear Daddy,

Thanks for sending me a letter on my birthday. I’ll be honest, I’d kind of forgotten. Days run together here in heaven and every one is the best one. That would be hard for me to explain, but you’ll understand when you get here.

We don’t celebrate our earth birthday, but you should see the celebrations we have when new people arrive. There are bands playing, cheering and shouting, and hugs from people they haven’t seen in a long time. And that happens every day! There’s always new people showing up. You would think it would get old, but it never does.

So I guess, in a way, we do celebrate birthdays – but the more important ones. The day you get to heaven beats the best of parties down there!

I miss you guys, too. But I can see things differently now. I see how short the time we’re not together is compared to all the time we’ll have. It’s like that little hard thing on the end of a shoe lace is your earthly life and the rest of the lace is eternity. I know you can’t think that way while you’re there – but the time is close when I’ll be running at you and welcoming you home. I promise we’ll celebrate to beat the band.

Oh, speaking of bands… they’re warming up. Someone’s coming! It’s my favorite one too – this New Orleans Jazz band – lots of trumpets and brass, and a big drumbeat. They’re fantastic – you’ll love them! I’d better go join in.

I love you all.

Smile,

Kylie

 

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Life in a Fog

Last weekend, our little sliver of Georgia was covered in a blanket of snow. Fat flakes began falling in the morning and we soon had enough of an accumulation to enjoy a wet snowball fight. It never got deep enough for sledding or a snowman, and wasn’t really a driving hazard (although when you live in the south, even the threat of snow can be a driving hazard.)

It was dark when I woke up the next morning. The temperature was already beginning to climb and I knew our snow wouldn’t last. The strangest thing happened as the sun peeked through the trees in my yard – a morning fog hovered in the air and combined with the snow, it was a scene both eerie and breathtaking.

fog

Fog has an odd way of interacting with light. Some fog is dense enough to be illuminated by the light that passes through its gaps. Fog and mist droplets can alter the wave nature of light so that it is not simply reflected at the surface, it is scattered or diffracted in all directions and distorts our view of that which it covers. Fog itself can be beautiful.

When we drive in fog, we have to use caution with our lights. The temptation is the turn on our high beams and throw as much light as possible into the fog to break through it. But often, the light we hope will push through the fog only bounces back into our own eyes, leaving us blind.

I’ve been in what I can best describe as a fog. Today marks five years since I last held Kylie… last heard her voice, last told her I loved her. I stood in the cold as her empty shell left my house and watched as the exhalation of my breath made fog on that dark night.

My grief has ebbed and flowed as these things do. The first couple years were great burdens that weighed down my life. I learned many things in that time, mostly that we have very little control over this life. We are subject to the fancy of a God who directs things without our consent. And while I believe that he is working things together for good – it is not necessarily an earthly good. The good result may not be evident until I walk through the gates to the waiting arms of my girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy bloke. I experience joy, laughter, and love daily. I have much in my life that I do not deserve, more friends than I should have, and a family that I’ll never be worthy of. I am a blessed man. But often, the light of these wonderful blessings is altered, refracted, and (at times) repulsed by the fog in which I wander.

The fog is maddeningly inconsistent. I do not know in the morning if it will be dense or thin, or even appear at all. It rolls in suddenly and at times with no warning. There are moments when it is so thick I can’t see to the right or left and must shut down until it dissipates. Life in a fog can be suffocating.

But if choosing to be without this life in a fog meant I would have lost those 12 years with Kylie, I would choose the fog. I’d rather live in an unpredictable haze than have been without her. So I’ll not complain.

I will continue to search for light through the fog and revel in its warmth when it penetrates through. I’ll not curse the God with whom she now resides, for he was the same God that gave me her light for a time.

And oh, that day! That day when the fog will be lifted forever by the light of her smile. That, friends, will be a clear day.

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