what heaven will be like

{by Duane Scott}

He’s been given six months.

Standing at the computer in the room, I wonder how it must feel to know the inevitable will happen, and soon. But really, when you weigh this short life with eternity, we’re all living in full knowledge that our lives are ending, and soon.

His hair has grown back along with the cancer and it’s moved into the other lung and into the bloodstream and chemo and radiation won’t treat it this time.

His blue eyes sparkle when he talks of his children; how his son helps him rebuild vintage cars and how his eldest daughter is pregnant with his first grandchild.

It’s going to be a boy.

“I have to live that long.” His voice is quiet, hopeful. “I have to live that long because it doesn’t say in the Bible whether or not I’ll be able to watch my family from above. And all I want is to meet my grandson before I go.”

He talks of death so sure, like he’s already standing on the banks of the River Jordan and can see his Father beckoning from the other side.

Lush, green vista of still waters

“What do you think heaven will be like?” he whispers.

The computer screen before me goes blurry and it doesn’t matter now, doesn’t matter at all how his lung sounds are charted and I stand there gaining my composure before turning to him.

“I honestly don’t know. But I know I wouldn’t miss it if I had the chance.”

He’s crying now, soft, and he dabs at his eyes with skinny, shrunken arms.

“I don’t want to miss it either,” he says, “but really…” His voice is urgent. “Do you know what it will be like?”

“I know what the Bible says it’ll be like but I believe it will be so much more. I believe the things we long for most here on earth will be what we notice most in heaven.”

“I just want to be outside.” He gazes out the sixth story window. Window washers crawl slowly up the adjacent building.

“Then we need to go outside today.”

Later, we help him out of bed and into a wheelchair. The oxygen tank needs to go, too, and as we make our way outside, he sniffs a bouquet of roses a wife is holding and says hi to a little girl in the elevator.

Pushing through those doors and into the outdoors, he just sits and cries.

Meadow flowers

The sun beams on his tear-streaked face. The wind plays with his short hair. Raising a skinny, atrophied arm, he exclaims, “Look! There’s green grass.”

meadow

So we slip the socks from his feet and he reaches slowly, lifting each foot onto the grass and the tears are flowing free now because he’s been inside a hospital for nearly a month and this moment, right here, is his tiny slice of heaven.

“This, this is what heaven will be like,” he sobs and he leans back, presses his face into the sun as if he can reach God and another patient pushing an IV pole squeezes his shoulder.

We stay here together, in quietness, until I lean down, whisper it’s time to go inside.

“I won’t miss heaven.” His voice is urgent. “I won’t miss the opportunity to walk barefoot through green grass again. I need to go back inside.”

And when we get back to his room, he calls his brother who he hasn’t spoken to for five years and they cry together when he tells him he won’t live much longer. And he apologizes and their conversation isn’t long but it ends with an “I love you”.

I can’t stop the tears any longer now; they streak down my face and I hold his hand in mine and there’s a language unspoken between us, like we’re brothers. And when I tell him goodbye, that I wish him the best, he just holds my hand tight and tries to speak but he can’t get the words out but we both know; we both know it is unlikely we’ll ever meet again this side of heaven.

But when we do, oh the joy, and we’ll slip our socks off our weary earth-traveled feet and there won’t be any pain and no more trying to catch our breath from life’s blows.  And then we’ll step together, onto green grass, we’ll feel it tickle between our toes…

And we’ll know that we are home.

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Copy of DSC_0155Duane Scott has been known to be jarred awake by a crashing of smattered M&M’s to the floor even as two angelic dogs innocently stood among the crime scene. But for the most part, Duane likes the silence and quiet of Iowa fields where he is married to his favorite Southern Gal. A storyteller at heart, he likes to weave words with threads of this and that and believes we discover the answers by living the questions. Coffee is a critical nutrient in his opinion and anyone who drinks it, is already a friend. He quietly shares on his blog Scribing The Journey.

Photos complimentary from Patricia Hunter.

*the situations, dates, names, genders etc… have all been omitted or changed to protect the identity of the individuals in the story.

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21 Comments on “what heaven will be like

  1. Oh my goodness, how you have touched me. Your words exquisitely capture this serene private moment. Thank you. This is my first visit to outsidethecitygate {dot} com, linked here by my friend Beth Stiff. So glad I came and have found a place here at the table. Eager to participate in this blessed community.

  2. Reblogged this on jana's three dresses and commented:
    You must pause in your busy day and read this post from outsidethecitygates {dot} com.

    A new online community, Outside the City Gate is collaborating with bloggers from all over the country.

    This post will take your breath away. It is raw and inspiring. It will stay with you and having you pondering the ways of Christ.

    Thank you http://www.outsidethecitygate.com for inspiring us all and for offering us a place at the table. Your words and posts are manna for our souls.

    With Love,

    Jana

  3. Whoa. *Tears*… Duane, I am so glad you are back, friend. It doesn’t matter how much I have read your writing, or if I read pieces twice, they always strike me so fully and with human emotion and a big Amen. You’re that good. Thank you for this. Truly.

  4. Pingback: What Heaven Will Be Like | Outside the City Gate | jana's three dresses

    • Lori, I’m so sorry! Thank you for reading and if there’s ever a time when we can help, can lift you up in prayer, please let all of us know here at Outside the City Gate. We’re real people with real prayers and knees (some of ours knobbly) on which to kneel upon. Bless you.

  5. I’m always amazed at how you seem to tell stories from my life, Duane.

    Before the cancer took her, my paternal grandmother told me how she couldn’t wait to get to heaven, to run the fields of grass barefoot with the lion and the lamb. I giggles through her funeral, envisioning the fulfillment of her dream.

    My maternal grandmother, Nana, she was determined to battle through her third round of cancer long enough to see me birth her first great-grandchild. Her last recognizable words to me were as she rocked my newborn son, barely managing to choke out, “Nana loves you” until she couldn’t speak anymore. She died 10 days later.

    When this man goes to meet Jesus, his handsome heart will be in beautiful company. Tell him that, if you see him. Thank you for honoring my memories by honoring him.

  6. Barefeet on soft grass. YES! Welcome from those who went before. YES! And all the other things our heart and soul longed for, especially His face and to see His love writ so large. Bless you brother, you give me courage with your words.

  7. “And we’ll know that we are home.”

    Gives a whole new perspective to the saying, ‘home sweet home’…what a GLORIOUS day that will be!!

    Lord, help us to keep our eyes on You, until we are reunited!!

  8. Pingback: {post} Valentine’s Link-Up, Sharing The Love | outside the city gate

  9. A friend directed me to this posting and I am grateful she did. Not only did I find this site but in reading through the thought-filled, tear-filled sharing of moments between Duane and his friend, a touch of reality is mirrored.

    We love the reflection of God in his Creation and long to hang onto the joys “here” while all the time we are each edging closer toward our real Home. We want the moments to count while en route. In this slice of a story, I can tell they have.

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