Ryan and I have both spent a lot of time in the last year thinking about heaven, since our child lives there. After Fiona died, the pain of separation and the fear of not being there to take care of her was unbearable. Nightmares about Fiona suffering in the weeks after she died fueled my terror. She was barely 9 years old, and I had to trust by faith that she was ok, safe in Jesus’ arms. The desire to follow her into death to just be with her is something every bereaved parent feels, although it comes as a shock to others. Heaven is the end of all pain and suffering, where you meet God face to face and are reunited with your loved ones; who wouldn’t want to go there? Almost every praise song in church reflects a longing for the eternal; I feel closer to Fiona while hearing songs of heaven because that is her home. Ryan started re-reading a book we had about heaven and how the Bible describes it. I prayed for some kind of sign or a dream from God that would give me peace that she is ok.
A few months after Fiona died, I finally had a dream about Fiona that was a happy one. She was sitting on a couch, her blond hair all combed smooth, shiny and fresh. She was wearing a red sweater dress and looked ready for a photo op, beautiful and perfect. She looked happy, calm and content. I sat beside her, stroked her hair and her soft cheeks, and gave her hugs. I asked her how she was doing, and asked if God and Jesus were taking good care of her. She said yes they were, and she said also grandma and grandpa were taking care of her (which I knew she meant Ryan’s grandparents, Marjorie and Raymond Ruth, who died in 2009 and 2011). She said she missed me, but not in a sad type of way. I said I missed her too and that I loved her. Then the dream moved on, unfortunately. This dream felt like a gift, as it gave me a sense of peace I didn’t have before.
A couple weeks ago I came across a photo of Marj and Ray, taken on Easter when Fiona was around 3 years old:
I looked at the kind faces of Ryan’s grandparents, and wept. I wept because I know they would be a great comfort to me in my grief if they were still here. I feel they would have known what kind words to say, and would encourage me in my faith during this dark time. And I wept because I was thankful Fiona had them with her instead. I realized I deeply missed them, as I miss Fiona. Their passing was very sad, but not traumatic; they lived a long, happy life together. They were a couple who loved each other deeply. Marj and Ray were married for 68 years. They loved God and always put Him first in their lives. They lived simply, needing little for themselves and giving generously to others. They were simply content with each other, their family, and their faith. I don’t recall they ever went on a vacation except to visit family. Marj spent most of her life taking care of children; from her younger siblings when she was a teenager, then to her own children and grandchildren. When she was 84 she regularly provided childcare for my nephew who was around 12 months old, until he started preschool. She was a competent, loving caretaker who knew her way around babies and kids. Coming across these photos of Marj holding newborn Fiona made my heart feel glad. I know they all live on in perfect peace together in heaven, where all their needs are met by our loving Father.