Today it is one month and eight days since I last saw and spoke to my son. Sunday July 31st is forever marked as “The Last Conversation” or “Jesse’s Last Supper at Our House.” He overslept and came very late for dinner. It is an interesting story with a bit of mystery about it, but I will write more about that another time. Because today it is one month since the day I got that phone call that told me I would never again see my son alive in this life. I am working to overwrite the memory of that phone call that haunts me and pierces my heart every time I let myself think of it.One replacement for that memory is the vision that Jesus has given me of Jesse standing with Him in a beautiful garden. The vision is a gift, my lifeline to hope, and I am grateful of it. Without this image the pain would be so much worse.
I first received this vision the Wednesday after the funeral, August 17th. The guests had all departed and I had attempted to go back to work the day before, the Tuesday. But I found it too hard to be in the office. I was so raw with sadness. So I had been able to arrange to work at home for a while. No matter the grief, the illness, or the personal catastrophe, the bills still keep coming. The mortgage company will still take your house and the IRS will still come after you. That’s the condemning feature of the world system: that it serves mammon not only before but instead of God. Mammon is the god of the world system and as much as I’d like to thumb my nose at it, I just don’t want to be homeless.
So I went back to work at my dining room table, my sweet dog at my feet, and tears periodically streaming down my face. I was not even a fraction ready to go back to work. The aftershocks of the earthquake were still strong and frequent. By later afternoon the storm clouds of grief had so so gathered that my inner sky turned pitch black and the pressure of sadness so heavy that I lay on the floor and curled up to shield myself from the violent winds. But I could not protect my heart from the pain that so intensified that it felt like it was in flames. I was sobbing, “But I love him so much” and then I realized I was in something like Hell, if not Hell itself: the darkness, the fire, the suffering because of separation from love, and perhaps worst of all, the sense that the pain would never end…..and then a sort of miracle happened.
I had the sense that I was being told to breath in cool air and then gently guided to the easy chair which seemed to symbolize a neutral plateau, a place where I could become still and become aware of the presence of God. I closed my eyes and felt myself walking on cool grass that led to a white garden gate. Jesus, tall and wearing rich robes, opened the gate and beckoned me in. He held me to him and told me He loved me. Then He moved aside a bit and there stood Jesse, wearing a brown leather jacket and jeans, looking a little bit younger than he was. “Hi Mom.” I hugged him and he said he was okay but sorry I was so sad. Jesus said, “See? He is with me. Any time you want to visit Jesse, you can come back to this garden and we will be here.”
Some may say this happened only in my imagination, but I do not think so. Some people would not believe a miracle if it happened to themselves and will always dismiss the inner experiences of others. But one thing I am learning more every day is not to credit the naysayers of truth. I know that within minutes I went from a state of very intense pain to state of peace and almost well-being. The intense searing fire in my heart and the panic of entrapment in Hell had transformed to a calmness and a mild ache. I don’t think my imagination has the power to do that. I believe I did expereience a small sampling of what it means that God is able to bring peace that surpasses understanding.
I don’t want to give you the idea that the grief was suddenly cured. That particular gift of peace lasted only a little while. The ache in my heart has never entirely gone way since that moment I found out he was dead. Perhaps I don’t want it to go away. It is the only thing physical I have left of him.