Heaven, on Earth.



Sometimes I really wonder what Heaven is.  I never wonder where Heaven is, only what it is like.  I don’t think we can wholly understand where or what it is.  We are far too human to ‘get’ it.  I think sometimes Heaven might be right here, living along us and amongst us in a parallel way.  I can feel Madeline, sense her sometimes… what if she lives right here along our lives.  She might really be along for this ride with us…

When I think about Heaven I see light, simple, fresh, clear, content, safe and comfortable.  I think about that first sunny and slightly warm day in April when you invite friends and grab hot dogs and smores- for the first time in so long you can linger outside and see light at 7pm.  I think of the feeling of complete relaxation and awe when I stand near a place that is naturally perfect… a sunset on Lake Ontario with family, Mirror Lake in the fall or covered with snow.  I remember the feeling of sitting with my fresh baby on my Boppy and just looking at her in complete (exhausted) joy watching them breath and contemplating the amount of work God did to write the DNA for that dimple or wrinkle.  I am brought to that feeling just after you do something really profound and scary… that crazy heart beating and scared- followed by a content proud after you spoke in front of hundreds.  It is like God knew you would love it- even if you didn’t.  I see heaven as a place where we can try EVERYTHING… and there is a whole new place of new experiences.  You know that feeling of putting your foot into the ocean for the first time- the ocean is a such a vast world getting to enter it for the first time is such an awesome grounding experience.  After… the ocean is no longer this world so far away, but a world you have touched and entered.  I see sunsets and waves… natural beauty.

Madeline is in Heaven.  I don’t know if it is a whole place or if it is unique to each of us.  I wonder if Madeline is right here living her Heaven… I won’t know until I head to Heaven, or maybe My Heaven.  I often talk to the girls about Madeline’s Heaven.  We read a book called Sargeant’s Heaven for a long time after Madeline died.  So many offered books about grief and death of a sibling… but this book was tangible to the girls.  After Sargeant died his 2 brothers drew pictures of his Heaven… how he has the best view of fireworks and that there are no shots in Heaven… the girls loved that Madeline probably doesn’t have to clean up her toys anymore.  We would read it, Lucy could recite the whole book, and we would talk about Madeline’s Heaven.  We all knew she was safe and okay… when we read this we imagined what she was doing.  We guessed what kind of things she would do or have in her Heaven.  I imagine her Heaven is full of sunsets and family.

My Heaven, here on Earth, is the last place Madeline visited before she died.  I am drawn there.  I feel the weight of life and work and responsibility lift from my shoulders as we travel up the Northway.  I feel that light, contentment, simple, natural beauty… that fresh and safe.  You can stand in the middle of Mirror Lake and be surrounded by it’s magic.  Ice and snow… mountains, light, wind… out there we walk on water.  Yesterday I had some sadness mixed into the day.  I felt it, but just kind of let it linger… right next to the light and funny.  Hanging with my nephews, playing in the snow, wandering and watching the girls play in the pool added light.  The day ended with pizza delivered to our room and watching Planet Earth in bed.  It was a perfect ending and I felt lighter…

Lake Placid is my Heaven, here on Earth.  It is equal to the sunsets on Lake Ontario and cottage time.  I feel refreshed, ready to get through this new year of missing.  I am starting to miss even differently.  The missing has changed again… maybe it is just knowing and feeling her Heaven next to my world.  Others told me back then that it would change… it’s a relationship.  I have a relationship with Madeline’s missing… it ebbs and flows, sometimes it feels strong and painful but as time has moved on it is different.  I know that the pain will not take my breath away, I am conditioned to feel it now.  It is like moving to a high altitude- in the beginning even the most fit have a hard time breathing in the lighter air.  Every breath takes in less oxygen than we are used to… but eventually we are able to run a marathon in that lighter air.  Our body conditions itself to live through it and enjoy that new area.  I am conditioned for this next phase of the relationship with Madeline’s missing…

I live with it, her in her Heaven and me getting to go to mine, right here on Earth. 

Now I am home, a few hours away from my Heaven.  I am content and comfortable.  I am warm and snuggled in to my living room.  I can hear the girls romping around in the back yard with their boots and snowpants… Sparky is most surely been included whatever game they are playing… and I think maybe this is my Heaven too.  Maybe, just maybe my Heaven is all of these places…



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