Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day of the Dead

Today is All Soul’s Day, a day to honor those who have died.  This was a conversation my children and I had a few months ago about two people we knew who’d recently passed away—my niece and a young boy in our parish.  I wrote down the conversation as soon as I could and sent it to my sister and our friend.  I’ve removed the name of the little boy out of respect that family’s privacy.

The kids were talking about Heaven and Hell on our way to Mass today.  The Bigs know that consequences from choices they make pave the path to “going up” or “going down”.  IzBiz added that some people do not love God but they don’t love the devil either.  Some people make really bad choices and hurt people.  The Littlest Pickle replied, “You know where they’ll go…to the devil.  He’ll be happy about that.”  The kids made plans to do what is right by following God’s laws so they can get to Heaven.

Little Buddy thought quietly for a few minutes and then added, “Mommy, what do you think about this?  Do you think Baby Ella and the little boy are playing together in Heaven?”  We often pray for Baby Ella’s family as well as for our friends’ family.  I pictured the two young children in Heaven, smiling, their bodies whole and nothing but sunshine surrounding them.  I said, “Oh, Little Buddy! That would be the neatest thing ever.  I bet their Mommies are both anticipating quite a homecoming when they too make it to Heaven.”

I imagine my kids envision those precious children with God and don’t remember the physical struggles they dealt with because of their sicknesses.  I imagine my kids find great peace in knowing that, even though they were very young when they died, they made it to their Heavenly home.  I don't see it like that all the time though.  

As an adult, my thoughts are more clouded than those of my children.  I still feel some pain.  I still feel sadness over losing my niece and knowing that another family was preparing for their child's death knowing that he would soon breathe his last breath.

In recent conversations, my kids have focused more on Heaven and how Baby Ella and our friends’ son are with God and Jesus and Mary.  They talk about that instead of remembering the sadder or scarier stories we heard when the little boy and Ella were in the hospital.  Having never expected to talk about death as much as I have had to with my children, I welcome their thoughts.  Where there is life, there is hope; where there is death, there can be fear.  But my kids see something else: death opens a door, a door to Heaven.  Heaven is where they ultimately desire all of us to be.

On the way to Mass, we honored Baby Ella's and our friends’ son again.  We promised to continue to pray for their families, including our own as we heal from some of the hurt we sometimes still feel.

But as serious as today’s conversation was, and how so very proud of my kids I am, there was an element of innocence turned comical.  As we finished up, the question of where exactly Heaven is was brought up.  Some of my kids said, “It’s up in the sky!”

The youngest begged to differ.

With a straight-face, the Littlest Pickle said so very seriously, “No, it’s not.  I’ve been to Heaven, and it’s not in the sky.”

She’s been to Heaven?  

Do I go there, I wondered?  

Well, sure!  I had to find out where she thought Heaven was and why she insisted she’d been there.

“It’s not?” I asked quizzically.

“No, Mommy. ‘me-member when I saw Baby Ella?  That was Heaven!”

I said, “Honey, the only time you were able to see Baby Ella was when we buried her.  You saw her at the funeral home in Florida.”

“No, Mommy.  That was Heaven!  It was.”

Of course!  She was only 3 at the time.  We told her that Baby Ella had died and had gone to Heaven.  We then drove hours and hours to get to the viewing and the funeral and to be with Ella's family.  For my daughter, Heaven was that time, and it very much was that place.

My daughter truly believed that for the last few hours we were able to see Baby Ella as we paid our last respects, as we stared in awe at God’s creation, as she lay so peacefully, while we shed more tears with her family than we will ever be able to count…that was Heaven.

Someday she’ll will realize that Heaven is elsewhere.  But for now, Heaven is a beautiful memory of the most awesome baby on the planet.  That thought brings her peace, and it makes Ella's memory eternal. 

St. Ella Marie, pray for us!

xo, Cat

No comments:

Post a Comment