I was just reflecting back on the past two Easters. Two years ago, Ellie was in the ICU. I decided to take a walk down memory lane and re-read some of those ICU entries. I've been sitting here crying over my computer for the past hour... The intense stress of that time came washing over me all over again. I remember Ellie's doctor telling me most emphatically that he did not believe in miracles, but Ellie's recovery was one of two events that he knew of that could qualify as miraculous. I've since pondered on that and wondered why God brought Ellie through that hell only to allow her to die 8 months later. But even as I wonder, I really do know the answer. It is grace. He gave her time to enjoy life again without pain. To be a little girl again. To hug her grandparents again. To play with her little brother again. To leave us all with a legacy of love and songs and memories that were untainted by her pain, but rather enriched by the suffering she had been through.
Then there's last Easter. I'm not even sure that I remember Easter last year. My heart still continually alternated between feeling raw and numb, and my memories of much of that time are fuzzy. Just after Ellie died, one of her friends had a beautiful dream about Heaven and was comforted. I would beg God to do the same for me - just allow me to experience a small taste of what life for Ellie was like in Heaven. At first my dreams were completely empty of anything relating to Ellie. And then I would see her in my dreams, but each time I had the full realization that she was going to die. Then one day, Ellie was in a dream in which she was normal - there was no cancer or death - just Ellie sitting on a bunk bed asking for her daddy. At some point I resigned myself to the fact that I would not be granted that glimpse of Heaven that I so wanted. My dreams always tend to be very "normal" - all of the boundaries of everyday life apply, and they are filled with the mundane stuff of ordinary life. I supposed that dreams of Heaven were only meant for children, who have the kind of eyes that are needed to see through "reality". I decided that seeing wasn't the important thing. I knew with all of my heart that Ellie was living with God, and I trusted that she was completely happy and free. This was just going to have to be an issue of faith for me - since faith, by it's very definition, does not include sight.
And then one night God gave me exactly what I needed to see. I still was not transported to Heaven in my dreams, the way that I imagined. It was even better than that. This dream felt so real that even now, it seems as if it actually happened. The dream began with me sleeping in my bed. I got up, and went out into the mud room to find that God had sent Ellie back from Heaven just to hug me. Ellie motioned to the window with a wave of her hand and showed me an exquisite display of the northern lights in the sky. As I watched the blues and greens wave across the night sky, Ellie wrapped her little arms around my waist and snuggled close into my chest. She never spoke a word, but before I let her go, I looked down into her upturned face and saw something that I will never forget. In Ellie's face, I saw all of the vast treasures of eternity. I couldn't read them myself, but I could tell that she knew them all - all of the secrets of the ages. The wealth of all wisdom and knowledge were contained in that precious little face. She had seen the face of God.
I know that speculation abounds regarding whether those in Heaven can see us here on Earth. Some feel that they cannot, because God has wiped every tear from their eyes, and how could they look upon our pain and suffering without sorrow? I used to wonder about that. But I now have a different take on it. The wise, peaceful face of my sweet girl told me that she could look fully at my sin and suffering without pain. She lived life in this dying world and suffered, so she knows how it feels. But now she knows all of the secrets and what the future holds, and instead of feeling sorrow for my pain, she whispers words of comfort to my broken heart: "Keep going, Mom. Don't give up. It's only a little longer... You can't even imagine how quickly it will be over and you will get to see God. And me. Just keep clinging to God. Don't let go."
Today is Easter. It's the day that we celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead. I wanted to think of something insightful and wise to say, but "spiritual" words just seem to fail me. I am so grateful that Jesus died for my sins. I am beyond thankful that He conquered death and now lives in Heaven. But I have this terrible realization that I don't love Him enough. There's this scary little sensation in the pit of my stomach that all I can really feel is that His incredible gift gives me the chance to see my Ellie girl again. I should be longing to see His face, but I keep imagining hers... I am so glad that my Savior knows that I am still bound by the constraints of my sinful nature and that try as I might, my love for Him will not be perfect until I reach eternity. Still, I hope to spend the rest of this life that I have, learning to love Him better... to long for Him more. That one glimpse of Ellie's transformed face tells me that it will be worth it.