Heaven is all around us.

When Bart was in the middle of his chemo, one of the only things that sounded good to him was Pomegranate shakes. Gretchen would stop by Arby's every day on her way to the hospital and pick one up to take to him. I understand how important that was to her. I remember how good it felt to be able to make chocolate shakes for Mom Link during her last days when so little tasted good to her. There's so very little you can do to bring comfort--when you find that One Thing that helps, even a little, your heart just melts with gratitude. For Bart and Gretchen, that One Thing was Pomegranate ice cream shakes.

Wednesday was Bart's birthday. I knew it would be a melancholy day for her and so we spent a long phone call sharing memories of our guy. We talked about what she might do to make it a celebration. She thought she might bake his favorite pie and take a slice to her friends. Gretchen has a wonderful heart.

The following day she sent me this email:
Yesterday I made Peanut Butter cookies because they were Bart's favorite and it made me feel good, but check this out! I found this ice cream at WalMart and it was most delicious!
It is called Sheer Bliss and certainly was. I got the Pomegranate.

Gavin's and my One Thing was notes. He'd leave them around for me to find. They were usually decorated with some of his artwork; fanciful little doodles that I always loved and generally tucked away somewhere. I just ran across one the other day while cleaning out my nightstand. It was Heaven. Literally.

Two weekends ago, as Greg and I drove back from clearing out Dad's house down in Scottsdale, we stopped in Sedona to hike. As we started out, I silently whispered to Gavin that I'd love it if he'd let me know that he was near. I always miss him when I hike. I have so many favorite memories of our hikes together. Anyway, I whispered my little longing to Gav, then forgot about it and just enjoyed my hike with Greg. It was a perfect day. Perfect temperature. Good conversation. Blue sky. Red rocks towering above us.

When we finally turned around to go back, we decided to slow down a little. Greg was hiking in flip-flops (the way Gav used to) and his hip was starting to get a little sore, so we ended up slowing down to a very easy stroll and I began to meditate by focusing on the details of the trail. It was then that I found it. Right in the middle of the trail we had already hiked over that morning. A large, flat-faced, red rock etched with the words, "I miss you." Etched around the letters were fanciful doodles of falling tear drops. Exactly like Gavin would have done. Exactly like him.

Heaven is all around us. It's in peanut butter cookies and pomegranate ice cream left for us in a freezer case in WalMart. It's etched in rocks along a desert trail or in notes tucked away in the night stand. All we have to do it ask for it. All we have to do is look.


lyn. said...

The veil is very thin...

Annie Link said...

So true Lyn.

Damaris said...

my heaven is in between my daughter's chubby neck. I love her smell. I love the small things.

thanks for sharing this.

Annie Link said...

Oh yes, Damaris. Baby necks are heaven squared.

Gretchen said...

Thank you for those wonderful words that you write so well.
You always give me strength, and I love you.

shelly said...

When I read this, Annie, my breath caught and I got goosebumps all over! How WONDERFUL and INCREDIBLE! Thank you SO. MUCH. for sharing this experience. It really made me happy.

Mike and Amie said...

My name is Amie. I am married to Mike who is one of the "Ramona Boys" that grew up with Natalie's Richie.(In fact the first time I met Mike he was walking into the Inst of Religion with RIchie.) We were at their reception in RB. I found your BLOG though hers and have had my heart touched many times. (By both of you) Your testimonies and experiences have reminded me of my own moments of certainty (that God lives, that he loves me, and that he knows me well). Thank you for sharing your sweet testimony of the sweet peace the Gospel brings. I know that the joy moments we have are little tastes of forever. Forever with the ones we love. Thank you for the many reminders.

Terry said...

Annie, my friend-
Don't we just live for those moments of validation? It's so good to hear you say that there is hope on the trail. Our new trail...
Love, Terry

Erin Jane said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! I am going to be totally honest right now and you will think I am crazy, but I think Gavin found a way to communicate from the other side!! That is so perfect! Who else could have thought of something so perfect besides him?? I miss him!

Natalie. said...

Mom, did you write, I miss you too?!

I would have. . .:)