As she breathed her last, her being left its shell and began to soar. She was amazed at how free she felt, how light and unburdened. Not even the great height at which she soared bothered her. It was as if all her past fears were washed away. Far off in the distance she could see what looked like an intensely bright light, it seemed to be calling her to it. But she wasn't in a hurry, she felt as if she had all the time there was to do anything she desired.
As she made her way to the light she looked around and noticed that she was surrounded by scenes of a life lived. With surprise she realized that it was her life, and what she was seeing were memories of what had made up her life... only they were more than memories, because she saw more than she had known about her life. It seemed strange that there was so much she had missed. It was reassuring to look at those scenes now, and see how it all helped her to grow and learn, and how it shaped who she was through her life.
Hungry for understanding about what her life had meant, she watched as the scenes of her life drifted by her. There she was as a little girl, shy and imaginative. Her heart ached as she watched her small self endure bullying and cried for the little soul that was torn by insecurity and doubt. She wanted desperately to reach out and hold that small child and tell her that it was ok... she would learn how to push past all that and be ok. But she couldn't, for the past couldn't be touched. She knew that that little girl would learn to hold things back, to hide herself behind a wall. It pained her to know that that wall would keep her from more than pain through her days, it would keep her from letting others in to love as well.
She moved on and saw herself as a young teen, learning to make her way alone, learning that she was capable of taking care of herself. After her parents divorce she was on her own a lot, and had learned to make her own way. She remembered with a sigh the feeling of detachment from her parents she had felt. Her father was absent most of the time, and her mother had struggles of her own.
She pulled her gaze from that scene and looked around. She was still looking at herself as a teen. So much had happened in those years. She had fought the darkness for a few years by then, and there were days, weeks, months even that she knew she was losing the fight. She saw the others, and wanted to pull them out of the picture, for she knew the pain they would cause, knew how they would just make the darkness stronger and the fight harder, but again remembered that the past is untouchable and so she wiped away a tear and pushed forward.
Then she saw with joy the one who she had loved more than anyone but her God. She thrilled at the memories of young love, a love that had grown and healed and inspired. She watched as their love turned from a young crush into a mature love that had sustained her in dark moments, and she was happy. Not that their lives together were always perfect, but they made it through the storms together. Through his love she had learned that there were good and loving people that did want to have her in their lives. She learned to open up just a little, then a little more. And she learned to start peeking out from behind that wall that she had been hiding behind for far too long.
She continued on. So many things had shaped her, shaped who she was and how she saw the world. So many hurts, so much joy.
Suddenly she caught her breath. Before her was the memory of a small, still form on a hospital gurney. She watched as her younger self sadly rubbed the small foot of her stepson. Tears ran down her cheeks as she remembered the grief and darkness of that day. She shook with remembered sadness as a million regrets washed over her. Regrets that had clung to her heart for all of her adult life.
Then she remembered something else. Her head snapped up as she looked ahead and gazed at the brightness ahead of her. He was there. They were all there,so many that she had had to say goodbye to. She just had to get to them, and she would never have to say goodbye!! She pushed forward as hard as she could, but something held her back. She had to see more, learn more, understand more. Then she could move on.
Next she watched with a smile as she and her love were married. So young and naive, and so in love. Her heart fluttered as she saw the look of love on their faces and remembered how she had loved him so. And how that love had grown and stood the tests of time, and tragedy, illness, financial struggles and just the everyday difficulties of life.On that day, surrounded by their family and friends, they had vowed to be true, to love, to cherish. And so they had.
More losses followed. More joys too. There were babies. Four to hold, and more that she would see soon... finally get to hold them and tell them that Mama loved them. Finally know their names and who they were. There were friends too, some who were there for most of the journey, some gone on too soon. She would see most of them again.
She was nearing the end of this part of the journey. She watched as her now much older self fought the darkness again. She held her breath as the fight almost ended too many times. Even knowing the outcome, she again found herself wishing she could reach out and fight the battle for her past self. She clenched her eyes shut as the memory of her fight overtook her, she didn't want to relive that. But closing her eyes didn't stop the scene, for the memory was in her heart, not in front of her eyes. Then she noticed something else.
Excited, she looked back at all the scenes she had already past. All the way back.... there it was!! In every scene there was the same figure, faint at times, but always there. At the times that she was filled with joy the figure was there, smiling and cheering and rejoicing. At the times she was filled with sadness, it was there, crying with her and wrapping strong arms around her to hold her up. And at the times when darkness was all around her heart, it was there, standing between her and the darkest part of the darkness. Her breath caught... she had had no idea that the darkness was that big, and that dark. What she had seen had only been the edge, for the figure had shielded her from the worst of it.
Strengthened now, she continued. She passed everyday ordinary happenings, that now seemed to take on a new importance. All those days that had seemed so plain, she saw now how even those seemingly meaningless days had still added to the picture of her life. She smiled as she saw herself growing stronger, and learning and growing. She watched as she was surrounded by her children and eventually her grandchildren.
She was there now. The brightness was before her. The beauty of the golden gates took her breath away and she hesitated. She was afraid to go in. She wasn't worthy. She had made too many mistakes, done too little for the one she would face inside. She was ashamed to go before HIM with so little to show for the life HE had given her. How could she stand before HIM, knowing that she had failed HIM too many times?
As she tried to gather the courage to go forward she noticed a figure coming towards her. The figure! The same one that had stood beside her all through her life. As the figure came closer she began to sob. Deep, racking sobs tore through her as she recognized who it was. It was HIM! How could she face HIM??? She dropped to her knees and buried her face in her hands. She couldn't do it! She could never look HIM in the eyes after all the ways she had failed HIM. As she knelt there crying she felt HIS hand on her shoulder. "My sweet girl" HIS gentle voice washed over her. "why are you crying?"
"My Lord, I am so sorry, I have failed You. Please, forgive me". She still couldn't bear to look at HIM.
HE gently took her hand and placed her finger in the hole in HIS wrist. "My child, I already have"
And with that, HE took her by the hand and together they walked through the gate. The sight of her eternal home took her breath away and almost brought her to her knees. That old feeling of unworthiness tried to come creeping back, but the sight of the One who walked with her pushed it away. Her eyes drank in the sights of all that had been waiting for her all her life. Her heart soared with joy as she realized that this was what had been calling to her through all the ups and downs that had been her earthly life. She couldn't believe it, she was really here! So many times she had doubted. Doubted that her faith was the real thing. Doubted that she could really count on her journey ending in this awesome, amazing place. Doubted even that this glorious place was true. And so it was!
Suddenly she was surrounded by people. All the people she had loved and lost were there. Tears of joy ran freely down her face as she tried to reach out and touch each one. Her grandparents, her stepson, the children she had never known, so many friends. So many people, so much to say, and all she wanted to do was to wrap them all in an embrace that would never end... after all, it didn't have to right??? She rejoiced at the thought that she would never, ever have to say goodbye again.