Do they have birthdays in heaven?
Been pondering this since my beautiful and tragically taken niece’s birthday several days ago. Aug 31, 2010. Twelve years ago. A brutal car accident. Road trip to Toronto before settling into first year university. She was 19. Flowing blond hair, blue eyes, quirky grin. Lover of little children.
In Pluck I wrote of the synchronicity: she was same age as our brother, Ford, when he was taken. And her daddy, our brother Glenn, same age as our father when Ford was taken. I wrote that, back then, we didn’t look for meaning in the coincidence. We couldn’t think beyond the fact that she was gone. And that, as with Ford, the forces that determine such things are outside our knowing.
Twelve years later and we still can’t think about it, about her – as with Ford, the scab not yet thicken over the wound. Perhaps with our young there can never be a scab – the wound invoked by their taking far too deep; our hearts not accepting, our thoughts filled with ‘what she might’ve been’. Like a flower plucked by an unseen hand a scant second before its first petals opened, we are left in a black void, reaching for it. We sit in our own state of purgatory, waiting, yearning, desiring for a glimpse of that bud in bloom – its shapes, colour, scent…. Perhaps, we pray, she continues to bloom elsewhere….
I keep going back to that ‘unseen hand’. Was it an accident? or, an encounter? Was the coming together of the egg and sperm that seeded Amy an accident? Or, an encounter with the love desiring her? Perhaps her first breath outside the womb was just such an encounter too- an encounter with life. Everything – first laugh, first light, first love, first fight, first everything – all of it an encountering with life. Like swimming down a river and encountering all of its obstacles – sharp rocks and silky grasses and shallow and not so shallow eddies – everything an encounter that creates more ‘of us’ in our reactions to those encounters.
Always we are in the state of Becoming. Death, too, an encountering. As natural as breathing air. How can something scab over then, if it is still ‘becoming’? Please God the wound left by Amy never scabs over. May it be so richly rooted with our tears of love that her petals outshine the sun. And perhaps in time her healing powers will help us plant seeds of love in that rich fertile ground of our grief, and we will grow into the grace she is giving us.
Perhaps there are birthdays in heaven. Perhaps ‘heaven’ is just another word for life, and birthday another word for ‘Becoming’ – Becoming more of who we are with each encounter. Perhaps then we should celebrate each ‘encounter’ as we might a birthday till we begin to see life as it is – that one long journey of hourly, daily, yearly encounters that help us transcend the ordinary into the sublime and still we encounter…..Now that, dearest Amy, is a gift of eternal value. Thank you! And happy happy birthdays…..