About a week and a half ago, I was driving 90 miles an hour to rush one of my friends to the hospital to be with her mom in her last few minutes of life. We made it with about 20 minutes to spare.
What followed for me was a few hours of sitting in the waiting room holding her three girls, rocking them back and forth as their confused tears flowed. As I fixed their hair, raided the waiting room kitchen for all the graham crackers we could find, and talked about their precious grandmother, their little hearts were full of questions and curiosity.
At 9, 7, and 3, they’d never experienced death up close and really didn’t quite understand all the implications and complexities that come with it.
They weren’t even quite sure how it works.
At one point the littlest and I were talking about how now her grandma was with Jesus and she was so happy to be there. She understood that her grandma was not in the hospital room anymore, but rather in Heaven with Jesus. And she was perfectly okay with this explanation.
Until one sentence rocked her to her core.
Someone mentioned in passing that her body was still in the hospital room, but her spirit was with Jesus.
I saw the confusion hit her tiny little face like a ton of bricks.
After twenty minutes of silence and snuggling, she turned around in my lap, gently grabbed my face in her two chubby hands and held my gaze.
She very seriously, and very quietly asked, “Is Grandma’s head still on her body?”
Her sweet little brain was just trying to figure out how all of what she’d heard could be true. And in her young mind, the most important body part for interacting with Jesus was most likely your head. After all, it does all the talking, right? And eating. And thinking. And laughing. If you had to take one part with you and leave the rest in the hospital room, the head ought to be the clear choice.
This week has been filled with plans, memories, cleaning, mourning, banding together, and overwhelming emotion for this family.
It’s really brought me to a place of consideration and thoughtfulness.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I’m coming out of the fog and looking for my place in the world again – finding out who the new me is.
It’s interesting that at the same time, I’ve been walking through this time of loss with my friend and her family.
It’s given me so many new reasons to pause and reflect and consider my own life.
I’m working through my own issues with death and life and really living.
I am definitely not done yet.
But one of the things that I have really grabbed ahold of this week is the idea of wanting to live my life fully. My friend’s mom lived her life for the past few years knowing that her ultimate home was in Heaven, and she lived like it.
When she left this earth, she wanted a party. She knew where she was going to be, and though those of us left here would mourn and feel loss, she would be dancing and feasting with Jesus!
So we threw a party! There were funny stories, laughter, drinking, lots of food…a true celebration!
At the celebration of life on Saturday, my friend declared the verse Proverbs 31:25 to be the embodiment of her mother.
What a powerful thing for others to declare of you!
I know that I want that to be me.
What a comfort to know that I can laugh without fear of the future.
I know who holds the future, and He is mighty. He is good, and He gave His life to save mine so that we could be together for eternity.
It’s not laughing in the face of the future and what it holds for me. It’s not looking at heartache and hardship and laughing at it as if I don’t care. It’s not being fearless.
What it really means is finding joy in today and not being afraid to experience it with the unknown of the future looming ahead of me. It’s understanding that the future likely holds pain and hard things and standing with the confidence that the King who died to clothe me in strength and dignity will not leave my side so that I won’t have to be afraid of whatever may come.
It’s time to live my life laughing.