Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It Feels Like Just Yesterday

This is the blog entry I didn't want to write. The timing is terrible, and I prefer to share my faith in God with others in a more subtle way, talking about my blessings, my church involvement, my Bible study group. There was a time when I chuckled silently, yet listened politely, when someone said, "God told me to do this." I didn't think God did that anymore; that only happened in the Bible. I wasn't there yet. Then there was a time when I said, "Why isn't God speaking to me?" I wanted to hear His words. I wanted to join that special club of people who had real conversations with God, but I didn't know how to become a member.

Today God spoke to me. It was not good timing. I woke up with a migraine, and for the first time in my life, the pain migrated from the base of my skull, all the way into the right side of my jaw, like I had read about in websites and books. For the rest of the day, I battled flu-like symptoms, meanwhile taking the boys to swimming lessons, the grocery store, and a baseball game in a car with a freshly-charged air conditioner that decided today would be a good day to stop working. I forgot to bring treats and drinks for Max and his teammates after their game, as I had signed up to do a few weeks ago. I wanted to throw up but I couldn't. I had a mental to-do list that could have stretched across the unscrubbed kitchen floor.

In the midst of our normal daily summer activities, we spent the day thinking about and discussing the event of the year in our family: Heather and her family's return to Rochester. Heather, her husband Brian, and their sweet children Ella, Sacia, and Zachary, some of our very closest friends in the world, have spent the past ten months across the world from us, immersed in Indian culture in Bangalore, India. They will be home in eight hours for an extended visit. We are so excited to see them, hug them, hear about their travel adventures, and resume our at-least-twice-a-week playdates and shared mealtimes. For nearly a year, we have exchanged emails, gifts, webcam chats, and phone conversations, all the while wondering when they would return home.

In the morning, we will meet them at the airport, joining their family to welcome them back to the States. The boys have been counting down the hours for three days now, and they both have special gifts to give their little friends, and I'm sure they will be awake shortly after dawn in anticipation of the big homecoming. Mitchie decided tonight after bedtime prayers and stories that he would give Sacia a big "licky kiss," one of his Mitchell Specialties he has been practicing on the webcam for Sacia for months, but I think I managed to convince him to offer his little world-traveling sweetheart a regular kiss instead of the licky version. Max used his own money to buy his beloved Ella a sparkling guardian angel pin. ("Do you think it's made out of real diamonds, Mom?")

For several days, I have been thinking with amazement how quickly these past ten months have passed. When Heather told me early last year that they were indeed taking a special assignment to India through Brian's job, I couldn't imagine how we would spend so many months without our friends. When they left the States for a short "survey trip" to acquaint themselves with their area of India, I cried sad tears as I thought of what the real goodbye would be like when they would be gone for a year or more. When they left, we watched for their plane to fly over our house, calling their names into the sky. When New Year's Eve ended 2007 without our friends with us to share a champagne toast and fireworks (I went to bed early that night), I thought, How Much Longer? and now, finally, suddenly, they are coming home. The time passed so quickly. It feels like just yesterday they were leaving for India, another world to us.

I wondered where the time went, much the same way I wonder how Max grew into an eight-year old (it feels like just yesterday that he was born, after twelve hours of labor), and when Mitchell became a soon-to-be kindergartener (it feels like just yesterday that _he_ was born, after five hours of labor), and how in the world I have been out of high school for two reunion's worth of years (it feels like just yesterday I was saying hi to friends in the hallways). I kept thinking about one of my favorite Bible verses, the one that brought me great comfort after baby Gabriel's death ten years ago, 2 Peter 3:8, which states,

"But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

At that challenging time in my life, I interpreted that scripture to mean it would feel like forever to me until I would see my baby again, yet to the Lord, the time would be short. I was comforted. Since then, I have learned a more complex and accurate interpretation of that verse, yet I still take comfort in the many reminders of the promise of Heaven and the way those words reassured me when I was feeling lost in this world.

I don't mean to compare a ten-month separation from dear friends to losing a loved one from this world. I know it's not the same as losing a parent, a grandparent, a child, a best friend, or another someone special. I knew we had a chance to say goodbye. I knew our reunion would be sooner, rather than later. I knew my friends were safe and happy across the world from me. I could see their faces on my computer; I could hear their voices over the telephone. Being separated from a loved one by death can feel like forever, especially for people who may not believe in God or for those who question if Heaven is real. Even for those of us who believe in God with as much faith as humanly possible (which is still smaller than a mustard seed, though we can ask God to help us become stronger), the almost-magical idea of Heaven can be hard to comprehend. Those painful, grief-stricken days can be filled with the worst kind of darkness imaginable.

Yet today I couldn't help but think, This must be what it will be like to be reunited with loved ones in Heaven. I couldn't help but think ...

Someday I will hold my babies and say, It feels like just yesterday I carried you inside of me!

Someday I will kiss my uncle and say, It feels like just yesterday you were making me treasures out of wood and holding me on your lap and making everyone smile!

Someday I will embrace my friend and say, It feels like just yesterday I watched you play hockey and listened to you laugh!

Someday I will greet my friend's parents and say, It feels like just yesterday I was at your house, hanging out with your daughter and watching PG-13 videos!

Someday I will hug my friend's husband and say, It feels like just yesterday you gave me one of your big, strong bear hugs!

On that glorious day, when we are reunited with our loved ones in Heaven, just like the special "practice" reunion two families will share in the morning, the miles and the months and the lonely times will disappear in a collection of hugs and happy tears. That is what Gold told me today.

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