No one knows what heaven will be like, but I know what I hope will happen first thing when I get there. I will sit down at my mom’s kitchen table and eat waffles that she is making for me on grandma’s waffle iron. When she’s used up all the batter and all the golden brown waffles are all stacked on a plate, she’ll sit at the table with me and we’ll drink coffee and eat waffles with peanut butter and syrup. We’ll talk and it will seem as though not a moment has passed since we saw each other. We’ll have the blessed ease of just being mother and daughter again – how we were when we were at our best. It won’t be how it was when I was a teenager and blaming her for everything that went wrong. It won’t be how it was at the end when I was trying to take care of her and so desperate to keep death away. Those memories will still be a part of us for they are a part of our story, but the sting and the pain will be gone. All that will remain is the love and the goodness and the wholeness there was to existence when I had a mom, a friend, so wonderful.
Soon it will be two years since she died. Grief is still my companion, but she doesn’t smother me as much these days. She’s always around, sometimes just quietly lingering in the background and yet at other times, just when I begin notice how she’s beginning to fade, she’ll come and slap my face hard. And I’m glad for the tears she brings with her and the ways she twists and hurts my heart. I welcome the darkness she brings to an otherwise beautiful day. Her presence reminds me of the blessing I had for so long. I don’t mind Grief tagging along with me for the rest of my days, because she helps to fill part of the emptiness in my life that mom left behind. I don’t expect or want that empty spot to ever be completely filled with joy or sweetness or calm or peace again. I know God is bringing me all those things and I am so grateful for that. However, there’s a space reserved for the Grief as long as she will stay.
I’ve been thinking I know something more now than I ever could before about the origin of the deep sighs, eyes that hold wisdom of the ages, stooped backs, the wakeful hours in the middle of the night, and the color of weary gray. There is so much loss this world has to hold. Grief needs so much space here so she seeps in where she will – she dries up the creekbeds and starves the crops and steals into every one of our homes to take up residence there. She’ll take up as much room as we give her. She can be the queen of everything or a shadow in the corner. Give her too much power and she’ll gladly ruin the rest of your days. Give her a spot in the corner and she’ll be just the reminder you need that life is both beauty and sadness, love and loss. Walk gently. Really see each other and help each other along the journey. Cry, laugh, be real.
No, I don’t mind the Grief. I hope a bit of her always stays. Her presence is what keeps my eyes looking toward the stars and dreaming about what is yet to come. She keeps me thinking about the Place where my mother and my grandmothers and friends have already gone and where I hope to join them someday. At the end of this life. Waffles and coffee, conversation at a kitchen table. Home.
John 14:2 – “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. “ (The Message)