by Cheri Tabel
“What if after you die, God asks you, ‘So, how was heaven?’” —Unknown
A couple of weeks ago, as we were leaving the sanctuary at the end of church service, a little boy ran up to me and exclaimed, “I have candy!”
His eyes were bright. His hand high in the air to share a high five. I gave him a high five and said, “that is awesome!”
With his eyes still beaming, his voice still bright, he said, “My grandma died!” He shared the news about his grandmother with the exact same joy and the exact same exuberance that he shared the news of candy.
My heart stopped for a full beat. A friend quietly shared that his grandmother had passed during the night. A small “oh” came from my mouth, but he was off to the next person. To share his joy. His light. The great news of candy. The news of his grandmother.
Last week my family received news no one wants to hear. It’s the kind of news that flattens you. Takes your breath. We are now on a journey, while not unique, of living grief.
There are layers.
Of the what now.
Of the what next.
All I do is cry these days.
In my co-worker’s office.
Yesterday, as a I was finishing a call with a practitioner, she asked, “anything else I should know?”
“I worry about everything,” I said.
I have a son who officially became a teenager last month. Freshly 13 is the next frontier. “I’m scared of teenagers,” I admitted to a friend last week.
“Me, too,” she said. There is strength in numbers, I guess, but no easy answers.
And whether your child is 3 or 13 or 33, telling him something that will break his heart will break yours. He is extremely close with his grandparents. The foundation he knows now becomes shifting sand. I’m holding my breath unsure of how any of this will settle.
But I keep thinking about that little boy. His smiling face. The joy in his voice. On what was one of the saddest days, he did not know fear. He knew only love. And care. And candy.
The time in the sanctuary is sacred space. The hours we pass there. Singing, praying, breaking bread together. A place we lay it all bare. Whole and broken and then a different kind of whole. Wanting peace in and around us. It is found in this shared row of chairs. Strangers, now not. Bowed heads, held hands, tender goodbyes. Sometimes nothing in common, but the fact we want something different in our lives. We are seeking solace in the shared experience.
“I’m so sorry,” a friend said as we left dinner last week.
“It’s ok,” I said. “I have candy.”
Cheri Tabel is a mother, marketer, and maker of sentences by stringing words together. A word nerd, she types with purpose. She see the world with a liberal point of view – mainly that we’re here to help the most vulnerable. She’s a full-time single mom and part-time chauffeur to an active kiddo, who is always helping her find the next life lesson.