Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Orange Leaf of the Family Tree

Jonathan: Mom, did you know a couple of leaves have fallen off our family tree?

Me: Which leaves, sweetheart?

Jonathan: Tina [Grandma's horse], and Grandpa K. [my maternal grandfather, his great-grandfather, who died before he was born].

Me: Well, Grandpa K. is still part of our family tree, even though he's in heaven. He didn't fall off the tree. He just moved. He moved from earth to heaven, but he's still part of our family. He will never fall off the tree.

James: Yeah. It's just that, now, he's orange. He's an orange leaf.

Jonathan: That means he's really old.

Me: Right. But he won't fall off. He will always be part of our family.

James: Yeah. He's orange, and he's just danglin'. He's not up walkin' around or anything. He's just hangin' upside down from a branch of the family tree.

Me: Uhhhh...Mmmm-hmmmm...sure.

Jonathan (eyes brimming, lip quivering): I miss him.

Me: I know, sweetie. He misses you too.

James: But you never even met him, Jon.

Me: That's true. He died before you were born.

James: I can't remember him.

Me: Nope, you were only nine months old when he died.

Jonathan: But I still miss him.

Me: Well, the good news is you'll get to meet him someday. And you'll be able to climb up into his lap, and he'll tell you all about his life.

As Jonathan trundled away, I thought about my grandpa, whom I miss dearly as well. Not only is he apparently an orange leaf on the family tree because he has died, but he was a pretty colorful leaf throughout his life as well. And he had some pretty rough edges. I love thinking of him now, physically whole, mentally whole, emotionally and spiritually whole, laughing for joy in God's presence.

As Jonathan grieves for a relationship he never had with Grandpa K., I miss the relationship I did have with Grandpa K., and I grieve for the relationship I should have had with Grandpa K. But I grieve with hope, because Christ's death on the cross, the means by which I will enter God's presence, promises me that someday, what I missed on earth will be fulfilled in heaven.

"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
~Revelation 7:17