At approximately 10:30 am on Christmas morning of 2000, the doctor and his assistant came into the waiting room at Johns Hopkins hospital and informed me that they were pronouncing my wife, Lydia, dead as a result of the brain aneurysm she had suffered on Christmas Eve afternoon.
I wept. I wept again as I said my final good-byes to her after they had removed the life support systems. But it was when I returned home with my children that Christmas afternoon that I really began to feel my spirit sink within me, and a deep sorrow begin to take hold of me.
I sat in my chair, watching the children go about the business of exploring their Christmas gifts, and I thought, "She's missing it. Lydia is missing Christmas, missing the children and I opening the gifts she had bought, missing the surprise of her own gifts, missing the joy of it all." I began to feel very sad.
At that moment, a thought came to me, a thought not of my own thinking. The thought said, "Read Revelation 21 and 22." So I did. I found my bible, took it back to my chair, and while the children continued with their gifts, I read from the book of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22.
I read about heaven. I read about the size and grandeur of heaven, the brilliance and glory of heaven, and the beauty of its foundations, walls, and gates. I read about the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God, the tree of life bearing its fruit, and the healing of the nations. I read to the end of chapter 22, and as I read the last word, at that precise moment, another thought, not of my own thinking, came to me. The thought said, "That is what Lydia is looking at right now."
Immediately my spirit within me began to rise and my heavy heart began to lighten. I realized Lydia was not missing anything at all. In fact, if given the choice, I was quite certain she would choose to stay right where she was rather than return to participate in our Christmas celebration. When we had finished opening our gifts and I saw the mess and clutter that would have to be dealt with, I even envied Lydia and her situation.
This holiday season, as all the others before, I enjoy celebrating hope, and love, and family. Since the death of my wife on Christmas Day, I also celebrate God's confirmation that heaven is real, Christ's promise is true, and the word of God can be trusted.