It didn’t hit me until I was hanging up my coat that there was no early choir practice. I’d completely forgotten and gave myself a mental head slap. But then it hit me; Ted and Amy, our choir director and his wife, were upstairs and now I could have them all to myself – to talk more about Heaven.
Ted had told me earlier “I want to be able to play with the best of them – like a Rock Star.” And he grinned. He mentioned musicians whose fingers are fire on the keyboard and I could relate, sort of. I’d like to write like, well, there are too many good writers for me to pick just one, but I knew what he meant. The best are the best and we want to be that.
They both looked at me when I bounced up the stairs. “I forgot there was no practice,” I said. “But now I can talk to you about Heaven, if you have the time.” They did.
Ted and Amy are nurses. I wondered if their profession had informed their ideas at all and figured that would come out as we talked.
Ted focused on science. “When you study science you realize how vast the universe is. I think of all the worlds that are beyond ours. I’d love to explore and find out about God’s whole creation.” As he spoke he gestured with his hands, and his body language spoke to the sincerity of what he was saying and the longing that went along with wanting to know. I listened as he spoke of the beauty of space and how it didn’t seem possible that we were the only ones inhabiting it.
Then Amy told me what she wanted to see again. “My dad’s smile.” I had to smile myself because I'd known her dad, Sam. He was a great guy. She also said, with a little shrug. “But, I’m not so sure there even is a Heaven. Maybe we just die and that’s it.”
Okay, this was mildly disconcerting. But I’m not such a Pollyanna that I think everyone believes everything as I do and zippity-do-da my-o-my what a wonderful day. Nope, I’ve known my share of doubters, skeptics, and seekers.
So I asked about their experiences with deaths they had witnessed. Amy spoke again. “The most difficult was with Barbara, Ted’s mom. She hung on for so long.” Mom spent her last months in Ted and Amy's home. Amy said she knew when the last day had arrived.
And here we are introduced to the disturbing.
Mayson is a dog, one of two Ted and Amy own, one with guardian angel qualities. He kept faithful watch as Barbara eased towards her end. Amy and another women were there for Barbara’s last moments and practical, clinical, concerns arose when she’d breathed her last. Was she really gone? We should close her mouth; things like that. Within minutes, as Amy and her friend were assessing, Mayson began to cry. It arrested their attention only briefly until it intensified. The dog began his lament in earnest and went on for quite a while. And then this loyal canine marched to the front door and continued his grieving. When the door was opened he sat down, stilled, and stayed put. Perhaps Mayson didn’t want to bar the way as Barbara stepped into His presence.
As Amy recalled the moment, her face softened. Ted looked at me with his crooked, boyish smile, and quietly said, “I think animals go to Heaven.”
The reason we had no early choir practice was because Amy had a solo that day. I sat and listened as she poured out, in her amazing voice, “Be Ye Glad” by Michael Kelly Blanchard. The chorus brings chills.
“Oh, be ye glad, be ye glad
For every debt you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord
Be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad.”
When I commented later that I was moved by power in the song she said, “Well, yes, for me, when you talk of Heaven, that’s what it’s like.”
It sure is.
See the full song here.
Image: Free Digital Photos