Heaven fascinates me. My daughter moved there five years ago today. I have thoroughly researched the Biblical view of Heaven. My library bulges with books on the topic from experts, Heavenologists and people who claim to have visited and returned to Earth. Think Travelocity reviews on a more esoteric scale.
I believe in a Heaven because Jesus taught about Heaven. I believe in Jesus because his words are the most beautiful I’ve ever read and, in my youth, I developed an immediate crush on anyone ever playing him in Godspell. As I have sought to emulate the beauty of his life as the truest representation of God, I have failed but grown more deeply in awe of who he is and who he has been to me.
There is no credible evidence to prove our loved ones can read the letters we compose. Yet still we compose. Then again, precious little about the death process makes any sense. One moment you are here and the next, gone? Mortality is a bizarre phenomenon. I no more understood my child dying then the myriad of hermit crabs, gerbils and rabbits I lost in my youth. Perhaps we just make friends with the oddity of death rather than ever truly understand it.
What I have always known is that time is limited and it matters how we live. Each seemingly trivial day overflows with importance. I have discovered that what I miss the most is the every day, utterly forgettable stuff of mundane life: Scraps of conversation, baking, laughing hysterically in Walgreens over a bizarre pair of Valentine boxers hanging right out there in front of God and everybody. Just the little things, the fruit of being in sync with your child, is the good stuff.
And so this letter is about the little things that have changed. I covered the biggies in our book but this is the silly happenings on this side of eternity.
A lot has changed in the world since you left it in 2009. Let me start with the obvious:
1) Hannah Montana: She’s grown up…and not in the best way. She may still have the best of both worlds but it may mean something slightly different now. I’m pretty sure a line of sleeping bags emblazoned with Miley Cyrus’ current image appeals to a different set than the six to ten-year-olds. Like most of America, chances are you would have long since outgrown her by now. What I have seen come into vogue is the zebra-striped camp trunks like I painted for you which only proves that we were epic trendsetters.
2) Sponge Bob: finally gets his driver’s license. The Puff fish Driver’s Ed Instructor Mrs. Puff passed him just to get rid of him it would seem. Oh, and your little brother takes the test for his in just a few months. Can. You. Even? Fear has only made my quills explode once or twice during the supervision process. I routinely, involuntarily clutch the door handle in horror which strangely he doesn’t appreciate. All good so far. He installed embarrassing, noisy mufflers that make me feel like we can’t afford to get the problem fixed. Swimming in Testosterone here.
3) Netflix: is not just those DVD’s we could never remember to put in the return mail like our responsible neighbors The Goodmans. It is Jack’s part-time job this Summer. People binge-watch whole series and I can totally see us cranking through the first few seasons of Downton Abbey. Ok perhaps I idealize our relationship but I know you would try to get into it the way Ellie has. At any rate Netflix is a thing and has changed how we watch T.V. Earth-shaking stuff here.
4) The Jonas Brothers: Hope you are sitting for this. Have grown up. And broken up. Kevin got married and his wife had a baby. I know right? Your ex-crush, Joe, recently boasted that Appleby’s follows him on Twitter. Seems that’s all he’s got in the hopper. Nick has a new album out and some weird Chain song so there are certainly high hopes for a reunion tour. Perhaps sponsored by Appleby’s.
5) Texting: Something that we had just begun doing your 6th grade year. Chances are besides texting you would be using Snap Chat, Instagram, Twitter, Branch and Vine now. How we as humans communicate constantly changes but what we have to say does not. Do you remember my actor friend, Ray Ford who told you to “Figure out what you have to say to the world?” There are thousands each year who carry out what they think your message would be. Which brings me to another update.
6) Maggie Lee for Good: Ok, I am sure that word has gotten to you about what is going on down here on your birthday. It is. In. Sane. When you were in Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, people all over the world prayed for you. Thousands of them. When that miracle did not come many began doing good deeds on October 29th. Out of that has come annual projects as well as a closet in your name here in Shreveport. People donate clothes and money for uniforms and kids shop for free in YOUR CLOSET! They come in in bathing suits in January sometimes and have no socks or undies and get a bag full of beautiful things which they select, try on, and model in front of a huge mirror.
People are just flat-out determined to spread God’s love on your birthday and even now year-round.
7) Jesus: You have a better view of him than I do but I just have to tell you how sweet He has been to me. As you know you and Jack were supposed to be the gifts I left to the world, not gifts I would have to live without. The crazy thing is that I catch life being beautiful again these days. There are still moments of darkness but the feeling of moving forward has triumphed. You are truly forward, anyway.
I know you probably won’t see my random musings. But I do pray each day for you to know how grateful I am that God chose me to be your Mom, if only for a short twelve years. So much has indeed changed in this world but my love for you simply never will.