Tuesday, June 20, 2017

So what is heaven like?

When I visited my mother today, I saw her holding hands with a tiny old woman who was scrunched up into a barker lounge. They looked so happy as they just held hands, and rubbed one another’s arms. Then my mother saw me and gasped in surprise. I hid behind the column and she called out, “Jack, Jack” and everyone smiled at me because she was the only one who could not see me. When I came forward, she hugged me and cried.

We chatted for a while and then my mother snacked on a Fig Newton, sharing the second cookie with her friend Carol. We talked about family members and she told me about the women in the nursing home with her. They are awfully afraid of people stealing items from them. I guess it is not surprising because they really have so few possessions to their name.

So, it came time for our communion prayers again and Carol prepared herself and set the environment well. We with reading of scripture that focused upon the promise of heaven. They liked it so much and it was so comforting that I read a few passages. The “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” expressed their consolation for being inspired. They began a litany of praise and I started the official prayers. Each leaned back and closed her eyes and firmly proclaimed the Lord’s Prayer. I gave them silence and space afterwards because they seemed to be in a zone.

I then gave them communion and they slowly chewed on the Blessed Sacrament. We finished our prayers customarily, but then I added a twist. I said, “Now that you are in communion, you have to wish peace to one another.” They reached out their arms crossed them, held each other’s hands, and said, “Peace to you.” They smiled and thanked each other, and my mother kept looking away. I said, “It is good for you to look into each other’s eyes.” My mother tried to do it but kept looking away, so Carol said, “Look at me, dearie. We just thanked God and I’m grateful for you, and I love you. We have to stick together.” So, my mother raised her eyes and just gazed at her and smiled for several seconds, and they said to each other, “I love you.”

Our prayer ended and we just sat there. Time passed.

My mother turned to me and said, “Will I have a heart attack?” and I said, “Maybe. I just don’t know. Sometimes when you don’t stand up and walk around, part of the body just gives up. The body starts to shut down, but it will be gentle and there won’t be pain. Your body is on your side.” I then asked, “Why do you ask?” “Well, that’s how Dawn Mari went.” “Yes, that’s true, and you can remember that she did not have pain.” “That’s right.”

“Are you concerned about dying?”
“I just don’t want to leave you kids.”
“We’ll be fine, and we’ll remember you. Don’t worry about that.”
“I’m not that scared to go.”

“Well, what do you think heaven is like?”
“It is peaceful, friendly, settled, restful, and calm, and, and… I won’t cry anymore. There won’t be a reason for me to cry.”
“That sounds like a nice place to be.”
“And I miss Ma. I miss her a whole lot. And I even miss her cooking. She knew I liked her cooking even though I told her I didn’t. I would make faces, but she knew I liked it.”
“And Dawn Mari will be there.”
“That’s right.”
“I like how you describe heaven. I think it is just like you said.”

My mother then started to talk with a woman about the wounds of this woman’s leg, and then she showed the women her own. Other discussions ensued and I knew my mother was in a good space with her colleagues. As she talked with them, I excused myself to go see my sister, and she said, “OK. You’ll be back.”
“Yes, I’ll come back.”

And I departed and the woman came over to my mother to talk. The staff was preparing dinner and everyone was getting ready for their meal. I left feeling settled, restful, and calm. My mother is connecting with so many women who are showing her love and acceptance, and thankfully, she is receiving their goodness.


  1. A beautiful scene John! Wisdom, comfort, communion. God. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks, John. Thanks for your kind comment.