Tweet I sat in Julie's kitchen. I love Julie's kitchen. It feels like family, strong hugs and honest compassion. The kitchen was filled with laughter and chatter and the most beautiful spread of gluten filled snacks I couldn't eat. In the center of it all, on a glass pedestal cake dish, stood the most amazing Red Velvet Cake any of us had ever laid eyes on.
The icing was delicate and gentle, tempting me to slyly drag a single finger along it's edge. Julie sliced into the center revealing the most vibrant red. It was simply the most beautiful cake I'd ever been in the same room with. But I couldn't eat it. I have Celiac Disease and I cannot consume gluten. I wouldn't get a chance to taste this cake.
Women to the left and right of me tried to describe it: it's so moist and creamy and soft. "What does it taste like?" I asked. Well, it's not chocolate, and it's not vanilla.... it's just, I don't know - tastes like happiness!
I watched as forks slowly picked up piece after piece, eyes closed as people chewed, no - savored. I wanted so badly what they had. I wanted to taste what they tasted. I wanted to feel as satisfied as they looked.
I placed my finger on a tiny crumb that had fallen on the counter. Watched as it clung to my finger as I carried it closer and closer to my mouth - and then, I tasted it.
But it was so small. I could tell it was a moist cake, I could tell it was good, but I still didn't know what it tasted like. Not chocolate, and not vanilla. Because I had never personally experienced Red Velvet Cake, I could only choose to believe it was more delicious than anything I had ever tasted.
About a month ago a woman approached me and carefully, cautiously began to tell me about how she has seen Avery at various times since Avery died. As soon as she saw I was open to receive her information she explained how she has had the gift of seeing people who had passed since she was a small girl and that her grandmother shared the same gift. She explained she was initially confused by what was happening to her, yet her grandmother simply explained, God gives people many different types of gifts. This woman went on to explain that she normally only sees family or very close friends, people she knew and loved, and so she was surprised when she first saw Avery, since she hadn't known Avery that well at all.
"I always see her around little children. She loves their laughter. She just really loves the little kids." Oh, yes! I thought. That's my Avery! The little Mama! She went on to tell me that Avery was really happy. Like, really, really happy. "I can't explain it - she is just - so happy. The happiest I've ever seen anyone. She doesn't understand why people are sad for her. She just wants everyone to know that she is really happy in heaven with Jesus."
And then, on March 11th, I received an email from a friend who never met Avery, to tell me about a dream she had. She noted that Avery was dancing, twirling around - and how little her legs were. (Avery had very slender, skinny legs; she hated being called skinny.) "...she was just HAPPY. Ethereally happy.... I needed to tell you how absolutely happy she was."
Haven't we always been told that heaven is a place of happiness? Revelation 21:4 reads, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Think about it: no more tears. No mourning. No crying. No pain. Nothing but what brings joy and happiness.
But, do we even know what it means to be truly, ethereally happy all the time? Just, so, very, very happy?
I've been happy. I've had happy moments. I've laughed until my sides hurt and tears ran down my cheeks. I've had days that I'd be happy if they lasted for years. But when I think about the overall majority of any given day, the majority of the emotions experienced would not be classified as happy.
Imagine a day when you never get hungry. Or thirsty. You never have to think ahead about what you're going to make for supper or if you have to stop off at the store for additional ingredients. There are no calls to make to insurance companies, or to the electric drain service, or to schedule an oil change for the car. Banking accounts would not need to be balanced, paper cuts would not sting, and there would be no Kleenex to purchase for that cold that's been lingering for the past four days.
You would never experience a stiff neck or an upset stomach or constipation. You would never have to referee siblings who can't seem to agree on a television station or remind your neighbor that walking her dog through your yard so it can do its business isn't working for you. You would never have to hear an unkind word from your boyfriend's mother, or his sister, or his aunt. You would never have to pump gas in a torrential downpour. Basements wouldn't leak, babies wouldn't get ear infections, dogs wouldn't eat through brand new sofas.
There would be no asthma inhalers, diabetes, high blood pressure, seizures, cancer, pneumonia, dementia, brittle bone disease, migraines or celiac disease. There would be no toddlers having epic temper tantrums in public, no nasty sweat socks that need to be unfurled, no discovering a tree limb crashed into the back window of the car when you're already twenty minutes late.
See, while life isn't necessarily awful, it is filled with a bunch of things that distract us from pure, unadulterated happiness. We have to react and respond to medical needs, emotional needs, physical needs, financial needs. We have to deal with a plethora of personalities that don't always mix with our own. We get fired from our jobs, robbed of our belongings and disappointed in the leaders of our community. Friends hurt us with stinging words, teachers get cross and punish the whole class, and we forget our lunch on the counter at home.
What will we do, then, when all that is left is happiness? How do we even begin to wrap our heads around what this truly means? To be happy. So happy. So ethereally happy. Every second of every day with no distractions. No more tears. No crying. No more pain.
We catch glimpses. And, since we understand these are gifts, most of us want to create more glimpses of happiness for others. Because those glimpses show us promises of the future. An eternal future that I cannot wrap my head around but that I desperately want to be a part of.
What is heaven like? It is neither chocolate, nor vanilla, but it tastes like happiness.