It’s been almost four months since Jon “re-located”. Some people will say that he just plain died, and that the idea of Heaven is comforting nonsense. Well, when I need money, I know that no amount of wanting will make it materialize. Staring in a skinny mirror doesn’t take off pounds. And I can think positively about my teaching skill ’til the cows come home, but unless I plan my lessons, I waste my students’ time and look like an idiot. I am the practical product of a bookkeeper and an engineer, not given to wishful thinking, and based on my experiences with a faithful God, Who has communicated plenty, I’d say that Jon is having the time of his life. Believing this doesn’t make me miss him less. It makes me miss him more- and want to be where he is.
But I am still fixed in earth time, and May 18 was Jon’s earth birthday. His mother said that she labored all night on the 17th of May, 1953, thinking “If the sun will just come up, I can bear the pain”. And the sun finally rose, and Jon arrived- blue eyed and jaundiced. Miriam had packed a yellow going- home outfit for him, and I am told that the combination was unfortunate. Eventually though, Jon pinked up, grew strong and determined, and the rest is history. So on May 18, 2012, we celebrated the creation of Jon E. Shehane- only in this case- as the sun was going down.
For the first time in his life, Tim was in charge of building the traditional bonfire. This took some doing, as the fire pit was heaped high with the green wood of a chopped down smoke tree. I suggested that he unpile the green wood and start with kindling, but he was disinclined to do that much prep work. So, he squirted lighter fluid over all the pile and lit a match. The fire blazed magnificently for a minute, and then crapped out. He tried it again with the same results. Finally, we all trudged off to look for kindling. Shauna was especially enthusiastic about doing this; Papa had always let her help. Cardboard, sticks, scrap wood and dry logs later, the fire was blazing gloriously, and the grandchildren couldn’t contain their joy.
When Shauna is happy, she giggles, talks a mile a minute, and hops up and down; Eagan screeches and runs. Unless you see his expression, it’s impossible to tell if his are happy or unhappy screeches, but in this case, he was clearly happy. Whether it was staying up late and being in the dark, or the fire, or the prowling cats and barking dogs that juiced him up, I don’t know, but he ran and hollered and was almost too excited to eat the s’more we offered him.
Finally, we lit the sky lanterns, held them while they expanded, and released them into the darkness. For a second, their light illuminated the upturned faces of the children. We stood together, watching as the glowing paper balloons sailed over the treetops into the sparkling night sky, and disappeared in the distance.
For a minute, it seemed to me that the darkness was bigger and the bonfire paler because Jon was not standing on the hill with us; I missed his strength, his laughter, the intensity of his gaze. But then hope began to drift into the darkness of my soul, just as the sky lanterns drifted glowing, across the night sky. For now, Jon and I live in different abiding places, but we abide in the same Presence. And someday, we will all be together again enjoying the glory of that great Presence. Until then- I just have to wait.