There is a little patch of dirt in my backyard, near the tree house, under the shade of a big tree that I often find myself staring at.
20 months ago, a little boy sat there with his collection of cars and drove them in hand-made tracks. By his face, I could see he was in a different world. A world with races and crashes and happy explosions.
He could sit there for hours. If I left him alone with his schoolwork, I would come back to an empty room with a sharpened pencil laying on a blank math worksheet and no kindergartner in sight.
He was outside, with the cars he had already hidden in his pocket, waiting for an opportunity like this.
In his pocket, mixed along with his favorites was at least one undesirable car, with chipped paint or a broken wheel. This he kept on hand for his 2 year-old shadow. Next to Mason, slightly apart from the land he claimed, was Griffin, making engine noises, muffled by his pacifier, copying everything Mason did.
There are numerous memories like this in my backyard. The tree Mason climbed, the hammock all my kids would pile into, the bike track back and forth on the long patio. I often sit out there and think of the laughter. There was much arguing and squeals of protest as well, but mostly, I remember the laughter.
This month I have to pack up this house and our family has to move to a new home where new memories await. New memories that will not include Mason. New adventures that will be beautiful of course, but will be, in this mommy’s heart, always a little incomplete. Always painted with a tint of sadness.
For the past 19 months I have prayed we would buy this house. That I would never leave the home where I last held Mason. That I could always sit and look out the same window where we would snuggle in the morning hours, watching the sunrise of a new day. The same spot where I rocked him at bedtime that final night, oblivious to the nightmare awaiting us on the horizon.
The other night when giving Griffin a bath, he said with a happy gleam in his eye, “Hey mom, ’member when Mason and me would take baths and the water came all the way up to here?” and he pointed to the top of the tub.
In my foolishness, I would often leave them unattended in the bathtub. And Mason would endeavor to fill the tub as high as he could before I came back. I would be irritated yet again with the water sloshing all over the bathroom floor. And Mason and Griffin would be laughing with giddiness as they did their own version of bathtub cannon balls.
Its funny how moments that made me want to scream become memories that make me smile.
He is still everywhere in this house to me.
His laughter still echoes down the hall.
This is not about not being able to let go or the need to “move on.” This is about the memories. The comfort I get in the sentimental.
It is why I take so many pictures and save my favorite baby outfits. It is why I do not like to throw away my kids tickets to Disneyland and why I save every single card they make me.
Moving feels like taking a box of all my most sacred, irreplaceable memories… and giving it away.
In the beautiful, well-meaning intentions of others to comfort, I often hear, “God has something better.” I smile and nod and appreciate the sentiment.
I mean, don’t we all want to think that? That when things are hard they will “get better.”
But really, the only “better” in my circumstances that is a certainty I can count on from God, is eternity.
God wants the best for me, yes. In eternity.
And our next home may exceed my expectations. It may have special surprises for my kids and a self-cleaning kitchen (if only!) and a huge yard. Because God is kind and delights in his children.
But it could also be another temporary stepping stone, with small closets and noisy neighbors and no backyard. And that could actually be what is best for us right now.
The more uncomfortable this life is, the more I long for eternity.
When the unexpected happens, I am reminded of the only truth I can count on.
When my son dies suddenly, I see and long for heaven and redemption and God’s presence like I long for water in the desert.
If we allow it, the painful things in this life bring eternity into better focus. Bring clarity to all that really matters.
And as I pack up the room where I last snuggled with Mason as he fell asleep and in not too many days from now when I, for the last time, close the door to this house, empty of furniture yet full of memories, I am reminded…
Do not cling too tightly to the things of this earth.
The memories will not fade no matter where home is. But more importantly, the beauty of my true home beckons so much more powerfully. I may not live again in a place on this earth filled with sweet memories from a time more simple, but I will live forever in an eternal home where Mason will laugh with me and there will be no more loss or pain or grief. No more saying goodbye.
The memories are beautiful gifts. And no matter the view from my new window, I will still never see a sunrise and not think of the beauty Mason beholds every second in the presence of Jesus.
And a reminder of where he is and where my true home is helps me let go of the things of this earth.
Do not cling too tightly, I hear God whisper. What is seen is temporary.
Let all that stuff go… because what I have, it is so much better.
Enjoy the blessings I send you but remember, the best things on this earth are mere shadows of what awaits. It is all a small hint of something far more grand. More beautiful. More lovely than your eyes could ever behold on this earth.
As I close the door on this temporary home, I am thankful to have had the memories here that I did. But I am also reminded of my permanent home. That 2,000 years ago Jesus told us He was going to prepare a place for us with our Father. For all this time, He has been perfecting my forever home.
So why would I want to cling to what this earth has?
The good things… the really, really good things… those are forever.
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.” C.S. Lewis