I shared this today at her funeral. Wasn't sure whether to post it, but Paul told me he hoped that I would.
When your daddy is a pastor, your four-year-old daughter has more than the average kid’s experience with going to funerals. She has been to several funerals of people at our church, and just a few months ago even experienced the death of her Memaw and Papa’s kitty, Bart. These are things that are hard to explain to your little one, but we try our best to find the words to help it make sense. Last summer, we lost a dear person in our church to a battle with cancer. We went to the funeral together, and then Abigail had her first time going to the cemetery. We explained to her that Sam’s body was in that big box, and they were going to put it into the ground because now that he was in Heaven with Jesus, God gave him a brand new body that wasn’t sick anymore. It could run and jump and dance.
We explained that dying is like going to sleep here, but when you wake up you are in Heaven. When you wake up, you see God’s face, and that is pretty awesome. We told her that you will see people here crying, but it is only because we are sad that we don’t get to spend time with the person we love anymore until we go to live in heaven. And if we are smiling and laughing, it’s because we remember how much we loved that person and all o f the special times with them. Either emotion is okay to have.
We have talked about the beauty of heaven, as best as we can understand it. How the streets are made of pure gold and God has a house just for you.
Recently, however, we talked about something that held fast in her little mind. We were driving to my parents house, and the subject of heaven came up. We are going to Disney World soon for a vacation, and Abigail said “Disney World is the best place in the world. But it’s not as good as heaven.” Then I said, “Abigail, did you know that when you go to heaven, you have a HUGE feast? It’s the biggest and best meal you could possibly imagine. And we get to eat with God! If you could think of your very favorite foods to eat at the feast in heaven, what would you have?”
She thought for a minute and said, “Cake. And cookies.”
“Those would be delicious things to eat,” I said. Then I told her the things I would choose to eat, knowing full well they were things that I love but she thinks are disgusting. “I would eat LOTS of shrimp. And crab legs. And COTTAGE CHEESE. MMMMMM, LOTS OF COTTAGE CHEESE.”
“Ewwwwwww!” she said.
The last several weeks, Abigail has talked a lot about that feast. When she saw Bart, the kitty’s grave at my parents’ house, she said, “He’s at the kitty feast in heaven. She’s prayed about it. She’s thanked God for it.
On Monday, we visited with Jean for the last time. She was awake, though confused, and we had a wonderful time with her. We talked, Abigail sang to her, she held our baby Sadie and when her arms were too tired, I held Sadie and Jean gently stroked her little bare foot while we talked. Abigail went over next to Paul and smiled at Jean. “We’ll see her at the feast.”
Paul and I exchanged looks quickly, tears springing to our eyes. Jean said, “What did she say? I didn’t hear what she said.”
“She was just telling me something.” Paul answered.
It’s hard to tell your daughter that the grandma she loved has gone to live with Jesus. But in her own way, I think Abigail understood better than most adults do. Jean is sitting at the banquet table of God. Enjoying the fullness of Him. And Abigail knows we will see her again….and what a feast it will be.