Dear Ruby Brenlyn,
Good afternoon, sweetheart. Your mom and dad have been sending such cute pictures of you, but it is not the same as being with you in person. I miss hearing your chatty talk and laughter that comes from down deep inside. I miss seeing your beautiful smile and those sparkling eyes.
Your Grandpa Jud is recovering from his second hip replacement surgery so it will be a few months before I can get down there to see you, but I know that we will be together again soon and many more times as you grow up into a marvelous adult. There will come a time, someday, hopefully in the very far future, when I will no longer be with you. On that day I will leave you and all of our loved ones behind and go to be with God. I know that parting like that sounds very sad, but let’s talk about it.
In the past year or so, Granny and I have had a stark reminder about the certainty of death. It started when a friend of mine from high school, Tommy Dodd, who was the best man at our wedding, passed away at age 63. Then it seemed like the flood gates opened. Dick Liden, one of my dearest friends, had a heart attack and died at age 65. Three of Granny’s aunts, Rosemary, Joanne and Vicki, passed away, amazingly within just a one month period. A good friend and neighbor, Mike Hogan, accidentally drowned down at the marina. Mark Chambers, the partner of a life-long friend, succumbed to a protracted battle with cancer. Finally, my God-son, Ryan Gosa, died tragically at the tender age of 23.
All of these deaths were difficult to take and we still grieve the loss of these people who shared important parts of our lives. We miss them all very much. It got your mom and me talking about life and death and friendship and what happens now. Your mom had previously experienced the pain of separation with a friend and then a relative and this string of new losses was bothering her considerably as it would any caring person. She wanted to know if I thought when people die if that was a final separation….if they were gone and we would never see them again. What I told her kind of brings me to my next pearl:
Thirty-Seventh Pearl: “We Are Joined For But A Moment in Life, but Our Spirits Are United For Eternity in Death”
All religions deal on some level or another with death. Most religions also deal with what happens after death and ponder the question, “Is there an afterlife?” The whole concept of an afterlife is predicated on the existence of one’s self apart from our bodies….a spirit which is separate and eternal. People who embrace the Hindu or Buddhist religions believe the spirit of a person passes on from one body to the next in a re-birthing process known as reincarnation. However, the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which account for just over 54 % of the world’s population and 68 % of all people who are adherents of any religion, believe there is only one life. They believe the spirit is eternal but there is only one body and one opportunity to live on planet Earth.
So what happens to the spirit after you die? As Christians, we believe that our salvation, through our faith in Jesus Christ, unites our spirit with God for all eternity. When we die, we go “home” to God and that home is identified as Heaven. Whether Heaven is an actual place or not I will leave to the Biblical scholars to debate. For me it is a much simpler concept. Heaven is our eternal spirit in eternal union with God. The alternative is our eternal spirit in eternal separation from God. And God forbid the alternative.
Your mom then asked the next big question, “What about those people we love on Earth….will we see them in Heaven?” I believe we will. We will not be in our human bodies so we will not see them as they appear to us on earth, but I believe we will know their spirits and we will be joined with them in spirit as we will be joined with God.
Our focus will be different. We will be focused on God and that beatific vision will overcome us and comfort us and provide that environment which will be devoid of the pain and suffering we experience here on Earth. The pain and suffering will be replaced with an environment of perfect love. I believe our relationship with our loved ones will continue in Heaven, on a more perfect level and with more intensity than we possibly can imagine with God at the center.
So, my darling Ruby, I may have to leave you for a while, but we will be joined again along with all of our loved ones…forever. In the meantime, I can’t wait for you, your mom and dad and the rest of the family to gather at “Camp PK” this summer. It will definitely lift my spirit and fill me with joy.
I love you, bunches and bunches,