It was at Ty’s preschool orientation, a nostalgic intimate sanctuary setting, that I thought of you. The pastor welcomed parents, then shared about the day before, when he’d accompanied his 3 year old grandson on his first day of preschool. Together, they met the teacher, and then the pastor laid on the floor with the little boy, racing cars and building roads, then together, blowing it up.
Because that’s what boys do.
Before he knew it, a circle of little boys surrounded, joining with cars in hand, to move, and build, and explode cities and towns to smithereens. It was the best, the pastor smiled.
Right in the middle of preschool orientation, as the pastor is sharing, those darn unexpected tears come.
That’s supposed to be you, dad. You are supposed to be here. Retired. Walking with Ty into his classroom. You’re supposed to lay on the ground, scooting cars and blowing up towns. You’re supposed to be cracking jokes about Ty eating all the snacks, and teasing him about not smooching the cute girls. You are supposed to join us for lunch after, and suggest a drive by the beach, and shakes at Ruby’s on the Pier. You’re supposed to head off with Lil’ Mom, your fingers wrapped tight around hers to “putter” and walk through Roger’s Garden and enjoy mexican food on PCH.
Weeks ago, completely out of the blue, Ty stared out the car window, and asked, When is Mimi’s Papa going to wake up?
Lava rock lodged thick in my throat and I swallowed hard.
Oh, buddy. Remember? Papa is in heaven and we’ll see him one day. But he’s not going to wake up here. Ty continued looking at passing homes, deep in thought.
Okay. In heaven, he whispered.
Yes, little boy. In heaven.
Where there will be laying on the ground to race cars and build roads and blow them up for eternity. There will be beach drives and shakes with extra cherries on top. There will be fort-building and board games and chocolate chip cookie devouring. There will be singing loud with the radio and asking for one more book at bedtime. In heaven, there will be no goodbyes.
And until that day, Ty, we’ll talk about Papa as if he were here. And we’ll continue gobbling and savoring every morsel life has to offer. In playing and working. In eating and sleeping. In racing cars and jumping off walls. In prayer and in thought, we’ll feel the absence of Papa, and cling even tighter to our Heavenly Father, who sees all and loves us so.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain