Our friends Holland and Sarah told us something sweet recently that I wanted to blog about until I got a brainwave: I’d let Holland tell it to you all in his own words. I made Holland a guest contributor on the site just so he could come in and share:
Jenna was born just a few months after Joseph, so they have always existed in each others worlds. When it was time to go to church, Joseph would ask, “Is Jenna gonna be there?” They were together so often that a couple of the older kids from our church made up their own role play game, Joseph and Jenna.
It was the Wednesday before Halloween, I had picked Joseph up from Pre-K and Sarah (my wife) and Emma (our new baby) were along for the trip, just to get out of the house. Joseph just piped up, “We should go to the funeral place.”
“The what?” I asked.
“The funeral place. You know dad, the place where Jenna… where we… uhh..” He trailed off. He understands that Jenna is in Heaven but also knows we visit the cemetery when we are thinking of her. He was having a hard time reconciling in his mind what to call that.
“You mean to the cemetery?”
Tears began to well up in Sarah’s eyes, She looked at me, I nodded. “Sure we can go”, she said
I reached my hand to the back seat and he grasped it like he often does and we drove the short distance to the cemetery. As we drove the winding path to Jenna’s grave we discussed the usual. Joseph talks about how she was his best friend, how they had the best times together and how he will play with her in heaven. Once he said that he was sure Jesus had the best toys.
As we had walked up the small green hill with other graves on our left, the grass covered downward slope on our right and the tall oak right in front of us, Joseph thoughtfully said, “This is my favorite place.”
Sarah said: “Hello Jenna-girl. I miss you”, as she knelt down to brush the dust off of Jenna’s picture and set the mini flower pots upright.
“I miss you Jenna,” Joseph sighed. We all cried for a minute. Joseph sniffed, wiped a tear, smiled and ran down the larger hill. Emma continued to cry… She was hungry.
“I bet you can’t catch me dad!” Joseph was on top of another small hill, yelling across the divide. I ran down the hill toward him as he let out a gleeful squeal, and tackled him. This is what we do when we remember Jenna. We play.
“Did you bring the frisbees dad?”
“Not this time”, I said, as I hoisted his upside down body into the air. ” I’ll have to remember next time.”
“I’ll remind you.” He really forgets he’s four.
“I want to whistle with a blade of grass like you, Dad”
So we walked to the tree line at the edge of the cemetery where the grass grows long and each selected our blades. That activity lasted about as long as it took for him to remember that he couldn’t do it. So we moved on.
“Dad. We didn’t bring any flowers!” he said as we were walking the tree line at the edge of the cemetery. “We could take these”, he observed as he pointed to some little wild flowers in the undergrowth. He stooped and picked several of them. “We can take some to Mama too.” Once the flowers were securely in his hands he took off running. “I’ll race ya!” called his little voice, as he sprinted back down while his little hands crushed the even littler flowers.
“We picked you some flowers!” he said proudly as he opened his hand revealing a couple flowers that no longer had petals. “And some for Jenna too.” His faced scrunched up seeing that he had lost some of his cargo. Sarah chimed in, “That’s O.K. honey, we’ll put them all here,” as she pointed to a tiny flowerpot. Joseph and I gently inserted the flowers and were off to play again. We jumped, ran, balanced, and tumbled. This is how Joseph visits Jenna.
Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Joseph knows Jenna is in heaven. At the same time he really wishes she was still here. Somehow in the midst of this duality he has figured out how to keep her as a part of his world. He has figured out a way to be as close to her as he can and do what they would have done together.
Keep playing Joseph.