Feb 3, 2010

Central Park.

When you close your eyes, how do you picture perfection?

When I close my eyes I picture several things: a lush, green pasture, with wildflowers and cows. I think of a cabin in the Rockies, so encased with snow that the front door won't open for days. And I think of my family, around a table, with tons of catfish in front of us and starry spring night hanging over us.

You may think of Rome.

My "UnkaDonald" thought of Central Park.

Who knows why. Maybe he had been there before. Maybe he had just seen it in a movie. Or maybe when the beauty and glory of heaven invades our mere mortal mind, words must give way to images that we've never seen before, and that words cannot capture. So we try our best to put words to what we're seeing. Water.........Green...........Beautiful..........Lush...........Central Park.

And so it was Central Park that my Uncle Donald traveled to. Four days before he passed away. At least that's what he told us.........


For almost a week my Uncle Donald (Meridith and Bubba's father) had been on a breathing tube. It was doing more than keeping him alive, it was driving him up a wall. He wanted to talk, yet couldn't. He wanted to drink, but wasn't allowed to. He wanted to smile, but even found that hard.

So four days before my uncle died his family made the decision to remove that tube, that darn tube that made him itch and scratch and mad as heck, and on the day they removed it, he continued to breathe. And then, suddenly and surprisingly, he began to talk. It had been days since they had heard him utter a single sound but then there he was propped up in bed and motioning for them to come over.

"I'm sorry I've been away for so long."

They assured him it was okay.

"I went on a trip."

"Really? Where did you go daddy?"

"I went to Central Park."

And it was then that they saw the payoff to all the pain medication the doctors had him on. Hmmmmm...Central Park. Interesting. Did you go there on a spaceship daddy? Inside they began to laugh. But he continued...

"I wasn't by myself. I saw Roy. He was over by the water watching the kids play."

Roy was my Pawpaw. He died a few years ago. Their ears began to perk up.

"I sat around and had espresso..."

A Starbucks in Heaven? Meridith was suddenly completely fixated on his every word.

"...with Charles and Joe and Mike."

Charles, Joe, Mike. Three of Donald's best friends who died suddenly, tragically and way too early. But who served God faithfully alongside Donald for many many years. But this couldn't be. Maybe he was just thinking of these men, dreaming of them. Let's test him.

"Daddy, was Bubba there?"


"Daddy, was Uncle Gene there?"


They knew then that no one who was still alive was there with him. Just him and Joe and Charles and Mike.

"It was just us and Jesus."

"Jesus was there?"

"Yes, he stopped by twice. The first time He just wanted to hang out with us and talk. The second time he came by and just told us how much He loved us."

And their testing ended. What was left to say? To ask? Why put to the test what their earthly mind could never comprehend? Oh, wait, there is one question...

"Daddy, why did you leave?"

"I didn't want to. But I couldn't keep up. I hurt too much. So I told them I would be back later and I'd catch up with them."

And four short days later, he did.

Oh sure, there were moments that still lay us out on the floor with laughter due to some over medicated babblings. And to this moment we aren't sure why he felt the need to fill up propane tanks or bake a cake. But for a moment, a small window of time, he was as clear and concise as he had ever been. About anything. Ever.


To this day we don't know if Donald had ever been to Central Park, ever seen it as a child or just witnessed it in You've Got Mail, One Fine Day or half a million other movies (or Law and Order episodes, but usually there's a murder victim there so I'm choosing not to go with this notion). But what we do know - what we choose to believe - is that in that final moment, between the here and the there, he caught a glimpse of something that we cannot explain. Something beyond green, something beyond beautiful, something beyond lush, something beyond pleasant...something like home.

So. What will your heaven look like?

And may we, like Donald, make it there in a worn out body, from doing all the work he could for the sake of the Kingdom. And may we find ourselves such good servants of Christ, that even Jesus stops by for espresso and to shoot the breeze.

Now, that really would be heaven.


katy said...

Thank you, Lord, for the Living God that you are. Thank you for sweet glimpses into Heaven, to remind us how much we have to look forward to, when it's time to spend forever with You. So thankful we know the "end of the story" for those that believe!

Renee @ AddMoreChocolate said...

I read your post and thanked Jesus. And I think that's what you wanted us to do.


Deb said...

that was a great tribute...I remember when my Nana was about to pass away...she kept talking about the babies...we think it was the 2 she lost...at the time she died...her Dr. was delivering a baby....one leaves..one comes in...

Vickie said...

WHat a special story! Thanks for sharing that "glimpse" with us. My best friend's dad passed away a few years ago. He'd been on pain killers for cancer in his last days and hadn't said much of anything. Right before he died, he raised up and clearly said, "Marian, can you see this? It's so beautiful, look at the angels!" and then he was gone. He was a missionary his entire life. How could you want your loved one back when you know where they're going? These things give us HOPE.

Debbie said...

My dad passed away in June of last year, and we had similar experiences. Beautiful. Glad to know that your Uncle Donald knew where he was going and who would be there. We can only imagine. Thanks for sharing this lovely story.

nancy said...

What a gift God gave him and you! When I get to heaven I want to hang out on a hot, white sandy beach with my sister and Jesus, watching and listening to the ocean waves and feeling the wind through my hair and the salt spray on my skin.
Ahhhh....that's heaven!

Mandy said...

Wow, I just got chills..what a beautiful story

Heather said...

Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful vision. That idea brings me such Peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and all of your family.

Kate Jackson said...

Gorgeous thoughts. I asked God to send my dad to welcome him. I'm sure the two will have a good time checking out what Mer and I are up to.

Shonya said...

Awww, that just brought tears to my eyes!

Shelley said...

That is fabulous. Please tell Meredith and Bubba that I am sorry for their loss. But I am so grateful that I will get to meet their daddy one day. Maybe he will be the one by the water watching the kids.
Praise God.

Sarah W. said...

Oh my goodness, I am bawling. What an amazing, awesome story!! And what a great way for Unka Donald to leave this earth.
Thank you for sharing.

I read this story to my husband, and he is preaching on eternity on Sunday. I hope its ok (you can tell me if its not)...he would like to use this story as an illustration. He particularly was touched by the ending about leaving this earth in our worn out bodies. Though, the entire story is the best I have heard....probably ever!

Soliloquy said...

Just lovely. God is so good.

Melissa Lee said...


I wasn't sure how to get a hold of you, so I am leaving this here in hopes you read it. But use it! Use it! Use it up! If its ever written here and someone would like it to be used for the Kingdom, go for it.

All my love,

DysFUNctional Mom said...

That is absolutely beautiful!

stacyaluthi said...

I love this Story. Wow, this brings me chills and excitement for what is to come! God bless you and your family!
Stacy Luthi

Anonymous said...

I think some times the Lord allows us to have these little glimpses into the hereafter because they bring us a little peace about letting go of our loved ones. And, like so many others here, I am grateful that He does that for us. Thank you for sharing.


Janis said...

I don't know why God allows these things except maybe to remind us what a loving God He is. Thank you for sharing it with us!!

Mommy said...

Crying tears here. Beautiful words. May we use it up for His glory. Amen. Praying for you and your family.


Molly Belle said...

Love the story. Just beautiful. Don't you hope that you are someone that Jesus just wants to hang with?

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