Heaven is for Real

On my second trip home from St. Joseph’s School this evening, all I could think about was a heating pad and my comfortable, warm bed. The thirty minute commute to Andrew’s school is worth it for many reasons, but a sore back and late night Back to School Night had made me less than happy on this particular evening. Needless to say I was not planning to write a blog post tonight.

And then it happened. I had casually turned on my podcasts and hit random when a favorite speaker’s deep voice spoke out confidently in the quiet of my dark car as I sped through the winding, deserted back roads toward home. “The Resurrection in faith tells us that death…you don’t win! This world as we know it is not the final reality and we are not meant to live here permanently. We are meant to be born into a higher world.

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I burst into tears thinking about the meaning of these beautiful words that I know, in my heart, to be true. How did God know that I needed to hear these words…tonight…alone in the darkness of my car?  Why did that particular podcast of Bishop Barron’s play now? My mom always told me that there were NO coincidences in this life and I don’t think tonight’s podcast episode was one either. I think it was God’s voice, prompted by my mom – because she knew how much our family needed to hear from her – to know that she is exactly where she is supposed to be.

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Sometimes when life is difficult, it is hard to believe in and live our faith. But these are the moments when FAITH is essential. Mom knew this and taught me this important lesson. When her cancer progressed in the last year of her life, she didn’t stop praying or going to Mass – deep held practices which have sustained her for 75 years. She may have questioned God or been frustrated, which is normal, but she still persevered in faith. Even though mom may not have felt anything, she still made an ACT of faith and this very effort gave her many graces to endure the challenges of the last month of her disease. I am sure that mom knew, “This world as we know it is not the final reality and we are not meant to live here permanently. We are meant to be born into a higher world.

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My mom lived her Catholic faith every day of her life and knew that heaven was real. She taught all of us to believe in that reality with the hope that we would one day meet our Lord in His glory. As a family, we used to ponder what it would be like in heaven. I’m not sure but I loved my brother’s description from his beautiful eulogy at my mom’s funeral: “Heaven is like pulling into mom and dad’s home on Greybirch Road, Cape Cod. You arrive with your family and bags of treats. Entering through the side door, you turn the corner with anticipation and notice the flickering candles and fresh flowers on the counter. Trays of cheese, fruit and wine adorn the side counter and the lights are dim and welcoming. Coming toward you with arms wide open is the loveliest woman you have ever seen – she is pure love. Her wide, joyful smile are eager to embrace you….” That sure sounds like heaven to me.

Despite the pain of desperately missing my mom, I hold on to God’s promise that someday I will see her again. But until then, I will try my hardest (in this life) to follow her heroic example to be a woman of deep faith, unfailing hope and unconditional love. After all, she’ll be watching.

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