With handpicked flowers cradled in his arms, Luke followed his mom along the pebbled path. Poplars stood like soldiers guarding the graveyard. He breathed in the sweet smell of lilacs and the neutral scent of the sunflower drooping over his hands. Pollen crumbs dusted his nose.
His mother laid her daisies on the side of his father’s gravestone. He squeezed his flowers, crushing the stems. Water seeped through like blood oozing from a flesh wound.
She never prayed for Luke’s father, only for them to be strong and brave without him. “He’s resting for eternity in a beautiful mansion,” she’d say. He moved into this mansion last year when the winter attacked his heart.
At five, Luke listened to his mom and never questioned her, only imagined his father splashing in an Olympic size pool with palm trees waving at the edge; but when he turned six, he asked, “What does ternty mean?”
“Eternity is time without an end...and if you believe in Jesus like your daddy did, eternity is spent with God. Imagine living your happiest times forever.”
Smacking a homerun over the fence; his dad cheers.
Cuddling next to his mom and dad, watching Toy Story.
Sharing a mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundae topped with extra whip cream and no cherry with his dad who tells jokes and makes him laugh so hard.
His mom continued as they sat on a wooden bench overlooking a sea of stones...
“And you know what else?”
Luke just stared at the drooping flowers in his hands, still dreaming of hot fudge.
“Nothing bad ever happens in heaven.”
“Nothing ever, ever, ever?”
“That’s what the Bible says.”
“What about squash?”
“Will God make me eat squash...cause I hate squash?”
“No, no squash for you, unless it becomes your favorite food. Maybe your taste will change in heaven.”
“Yuck.” Luke reached deep into his pocket and pulled out his inhaler. “Will I still need asthma medicine?”
“Definitely not. No sickness there.”
A bumblebee circled the sweet bouquet, and Luke swatted at it with his sunflower. A few more petals landed at his feet. The head of the flower sagged like an old man with bad posture. “Can a bee sting me?”
“No, I don’t think we’ll see bugs in heaven.”
“Could my arm brake if I fall off a cloud like when I fell off my skateboard?”
“No, you’ll have a new body in heaven that feels no pain.”
“Can Daddy’s heart get attacked again?”
“No, no one will ever, ever, ever die again.”
Luke dug his sneaker into the pebbles that lined the path and kicked a few toward the gravestone. “That’s good...cause I really miss him.”
“Me too, Lukey.” She dusted off the pollen sprinkles and kissed his forehead. “How ‘bout we go get one of those mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundaes topped with extra whipped cream and no cherry?”
“Awesome!” Luke turned and knelt down on the damp grass. “Just a second.” He arranged the lilacs around the stone, setting the drooping sunflower in the middle and smiled. “Now I’m ready.” Luke blew another bee off his shoulder and said, "Did you hear that--no more bees!"
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
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