Thursday, October 4, 2018

Turning Eleven in Heaven

I stare at my boys.  Usually when they are sleeping, or if I can get a longer glimpse of them during a quiet moment in my head, and I think about what kind of lives they will have. 

I want them to be kids as long as possible.  To have fun and ask to “play” with their friends.  I was eleven years old when I looked twice at my dolls and questioned if I was too old to play with them anymore.  I remember crying over the idea that maybe I was.  I wonder if Ty would already be asking to "hang out" with his friends, instead of "play."

I want to protect them from the insecurities of high school.  I want them to stand up to the bullies, and they sure as hell better not bully others.  I loved high school and I loved my friends.  I was always happy.  With all I read today about depression and anxiety, it’s sad to think that all I want for them is to get through it unscathed and ready for the next phase in life. 

I want to stop them from acting with reckless abandon in college (or at least, help them to find the right balance between experience and learning).  And I hope they don’t drink the punch with grain alcohol.  They WILL be embarrassed the next day.  I hope they find their love for music and see as many concerts as they can, while they can.  From bands in the bar to sold out stadiums - and I hope they find their way to the front row.  I hope they respect women, and know to NEVER make inappropriate advances.  There is no excuse for that what-so-ever and I have zero tolerance. 

I want all the right career choices to fall into place in their twenties so they can live on their own in the big city and I want them to travel while they are young and free. 

I want to watch them fall in love, marry the sweetest girls, and kick off their thirties with a cute little house filled with love and laughter.  The thirties will bring marriage and fighting, complete chaos when babies are born, and they will start to see all of those “You’ll see” moments that everyone warned them about.  I hope they can take it all in stride and remember to focus on the tremendous love, because this will be the first decade in their lives where they are no longer putting themselves first.  I hope they know how wonderful and fulfilling and beautiful that is, despite the hardships that go along with loving others so deeply.    

For Lou and I, life got particularly hard in our thirties and forties, and I wish I could protect them from the really sad things that start happening mid-life.  People we love most have died, loving relationships have dissolved, addiction and cancer have consumed far too many friends and family, and financial hardships have been debilitating.  Life gets real right about now, and I worry for them.  

Despite the rough patches, life is great.  The world is beautiful.  Love is all around us.  And, I can't wait to watch my boys grow up.  I wish beyond wishing that I could have that opportunity with Ty.  I'm up early today, and as I walked down the hall I thought about how I could be sneaking around decorating with balloons for when he wakes up.  I imagine he would roll his eyes because... eleven... but deep down he would really love that.  I would start cooking the bacon and getting the waffles on for his special bday breakfast before he went off to middle school (!), served with a blue lollipop on the side.  I'd give him extra lunch money and a treat for desert.  Everyone would come over later for cake and a song.

But he is forever five years old.  If you asked me what I would want for any of my sons in their first five years of life, I would say laughter and pure joy in that most innocent time.  But he suffered, and that was so unfair, so I hope with all hope that there is a heaven and he is celebrating a terrific birthday “up there” whatever that looks like:
  • I hope he feels safe.  The idea that I wasn’t able to hold his hand and be with him will haunt me forever.  I worry that he felt scared and alone, and I hope that’s not true.
  • I hope he never feels sadness, even when he knows we are feeling sad because of losing him.
  • I hope he could hear what we said to him over and over again as he left this world, and that he carries those words with him… I love you, I love you, I love you… because love is everything.
  • I hope heaven is spectacular.
  • I hope he continues to keep Nadine strong, and gets to play with her dogs like they are his own because he never had a pet.
  • I hope he really is watching down on his brothers, and that he can guide them through their own ups and downs in life.
  • I hope nature is his playground.  That he is painting the sky, and guiding the ladybugs to visit me, and jumping in muddy puddles every chance he gets.
  • I hope when I feel a special breeze, it is his embrace.
  • I hope the inaudible whispers in my ears are really his.
  • I hope he has so many little friends.  I hope he found Sally and made her feel safe, just as I hope McKenna found him and made him feel safe.
  • I hope he isn’t lonely, even though I feel a pang of jealousy for any spirit that gets to be close to him other than me – as if I’m losing ground.  So silly, I know.
  • I hope he has Granny there with him, to hold his face and give him super long soft kisses on his cheeks. 
  • I hope he has access to an endless sea of blue lollipops and gumdrop trees.
  • I hope he spends all day laughing – like every day is his birthday.
  • I hope the air up there is filled with music and smells like butterscotch.
  • I hope he feels me when I’m thinking of him. 
  • I hope heaven is that beautiful abyss where the sky meets the ocean, where just looking out at sea brings a feeling of serenity.
  • I hope he can’t remember the pain.
  • I hope there are balloons in heaven.  And toys…. Lots and lots of toys.  And whoopie cushions.
  • I hope time is irrelevant, and all these years on earth without him will feel like no time passed at all when we meet again.

We lost my cousin Johnny in December, and my Aunt asked me, “Isn’t it weird to believe in heaven?  For example, what happens when a spouse dies, a person gets remarried, and then they are all awkwardly reunited in heaven?”  I laughed.  I said to her, "You are visualizing heaven in the context of being human.  We can’t understand beyond what we know life to be… but I like to think that heaven is pure love and something like a sixth sense that we can’t possibly understand until we experience it. Humans are way too simple-minded to have any idea what heaven really means.”  I like that concept, but what do I know.  I am very much looking forward to that day of enlightenment for me, but until then I hope I can live out this life with love as my guide. 

I miss you Ty.  My eleven year old boy!  You would be so tall!  I wonder what your smile would look like.  I never did get to see your big boy teeth come in.  That boggles my mind all the time – that I don’t know what your smile would look like.  I can otherwise imagine what you would look like at eleven from head to toe, but I get completely stumped at your smile.  I hope some-day you’ll visit me in my dreams and give me a big, eleven-year old smile so I can carry that with me.  I am the luckiest person in the world because you were mine.  XOXOXOXOXOX infinity J