A few nights ago, as I primped Erin for bed – milk, cookies, books, Kenny Rogers – she veered away from our normal twilight chatter and said something odd.
“Doesn’t Uncle Brendy look just like Grandpa?” she asked.
Not a weird question in and of itself. Uncle Brendy does indeed look like Grandpa. Talks and walks like him too. But when she mentioned the fact, I froze. Pat’s father lost his battle with cancer six years ago, long before Erin was born, long before Uncle Brendy really started to resemble him.
My mommy brain started racing. How should I respond? Before I had the chance, she continued.
“Not Pop-Pop,” she said, clarifying that she wasn’t talking about my dad. “Grandpa. You know, the one who’s up in Heaven with Jesus.”
More freezing. But now with goosebumps.
“He does,” I finally answered. “What made you think of that? Did you see a picture?”
What came next I never expected.
“No,” came the reply. “He came into my room the other night like magic with Jesus in a spaceship. He tickled Jeremiah’s belly and kneeled down by my bed and said he loved me. Mommy, he really looks like Uncle Brendy!”
Of course we talk about Grandpa and the fact that he’s in Heaven. But not so recently and never to such an extent that she should be dreaming of it. I had no idea what to say, so I let my three-year-old take the lead.
She gave more details, describing his blue outfit and fuzzy mustache. When I told Pat the next day, she reiterated the same exact story to him again.
In Pat’s eyes, I could see the comfort. His dad passed and was waked on Father’s Day weekend and his birthday is just a week away. Months and years of illness and hospital visits make this time of year not so easy. We gave our son, Jeremiah, his name, so even though we talk about his dad often, the past five months have been an even bigger daily reminder.
But Erin’s dream or vision or visit or whatever you want to call it, was a little unforeseen blessing at just the right time. As adults, death is hard. To comfort ourselves, we talk about Dad playing pinochle and paddle ball with his brothers in Heaven. We visit psychics and create pictures in our mind of this wonderful oasis where our loved ones move on to spend eternity.
But maybe the innocent mind of a child can view these things better than we can.
Dad was a decorated chief on the fire department, so he had some big-wig friends, but it’s nice to know he’s got even better company up in Heaven, traveling via spaceship with Jesus to visit his relatives. So he’s not playing paddle ball or monster games of pinochle like we imagined, but instead, he is with us, around us.
My faith taught me that. Erin just confirmed it.