Monday, February 7, 2011

Heaven Is Not A Place On Earth

Maya asked me on the way to pick up Miguel from basketball practice, "How did Mommy get to Heaven?"

We were about to turn at a traffic light opposite a Safeway. "God put her there," I said, quite relieved that my five-year-old could not peer too deeply into her agnostic father's heart (or mind).

"When you die," I continued, "God lifts you to Heaven."

"I want to die," she responded. "So I can be with me Mommy."

Then she kept repeating "I just want to die, Daddy, so I can be with Mommy" over and over. She asked me if people live in Heaven. "They can talk right, Daddy?"

"Well," I said to my theologically and cosmically advanced preschooler, "people can talk in Heaven, but Heaven is where people go after they die."

It wasn't as if I was holding back the tears, but I was stuck in a state of shock, a relentlessly thick river of emotion-stultifying goop. Maya didn't want (or understand what it meant) to die, but she misses Verna so much that she wants to join her in Heaven, a place I later told her where Mommy is no longer sick or feels pain.

"Do you want to die and see Mommy?" she asked.

"Well," and I knew I was treading on shaky ground for I could not return to the everyone dies conversation without provoking a psychic meltdown, "I don't want to die now. I want to be here living with you and Miguel and all our friends and family."

That seemed to mollify Maya, and she did not ask if everyone we know also wants to die. She said, "That's right. We're going to live forever, me and Daddy and Miguel."

I gulped. Then I gladly lied yet again to her. "Yes, we are going to live forever. I am not going anywhere."

Which is what Maya wanted and needed to hear. Just before bed, dressed in her light green Tinkerbell pajamas, she said, "I miss Mommy. I wish she could come down and see us."

"So do I," I said. "I miss Mommy so much."

When she is older I can tell her about the surreal dream I had last week. I went to bed just before midnight and drifted into the first stage of sleep, where one can be awakened easily. I was standing next to our king-sized bed and I felt Verna's presence, powerful and close. As I neared the bed, I also felt a malevolent force, something very evil, trying to yank me downwards, almost in a tangle of white bedsheets. I felt awake and everything seemed very real.

I called out, "Verna, Verna, Verna," and suddenly her hands appeared. I saw them on top of the bed. So I reached for them and Verna pulled me away from whatever was tormenting me. Then my eyes opened, though I still felt as if I was in the dreamy, not quite asleep state, and I saw bright light.

I actually opened my eyes and saw Maya's breathing steadily next to me, peacefulness and innocence etched on her face, as she slumbered for the evening. I was OK. I felt as if Verna had either rescued me or sent me a message from beyond.

The message? I have no idea. But I do keep reminding Maya (and myself) that we have another Guardian Angel, watching over us as we go about living life to (I hope) the fullest. And missing Verna, but knowing she is there as a beacon.

No comments:

Post a Comment