THIS ISN’T WHAT I WAS GOING TO WRITE.
I was going to tell you about the first printed book to come out of the Casual English Bible®: a paperback New Testament Atlas, due for release any day. The eBook version went live yesterday afternoon, on Amazon and on my site. (4:30 am and I just learned that the paperback was released.)
I was already writing the feature. Oddly, I was at the part where I was telling about how one publisher tried to talk me into writing a book about heaven. They did that because some other guy sold a lot of books writing about what he didn’t know, but thought he knew.
I told them I know I don’t know, so No.
This is the odd part
Just after writing that thing about heaven, I got a text message from my little sister who is caring for our mother. Mom is frail and wants to go “home” to see Dad and her boys—my three little brothers. One died shortly after birth; I never got to meet him. Two died last year.
My sis said she’s taking Mom to urgent care to make sure nothing else is going on.
I’d tell you what has been going on, but it’s not my place. Just imagine me blowing my nose a lot as I type this, and you’ll get a sense of the room.
I’m the oldest son, first of the six Miller children. We watched Dad die years ago. Then the last of my younger brothers, one of Covid. Mom had given birth to four sons. Now, I’m the last, when as the oldest, I should have been the first.
I can’t help but remember something Jesus said about heaven, and wonder if he was thinking of me at the time:
“People who seem to be last and least get promoted to first. And people who seem to be first and most important get demoted to last” (Matthew 20:16).
My sis texted me about how hard it is to see someone we love suddenly appear as fragile as we have always been, but didn’t realize.
I texted her back,
“Cherish the moments. Even the tough ones. Because these are the moments we have her still with us.”
Then I sat and cried until my head hurt.
Pardon my language, but when I forwarded those messages to my wife and kids, I added: “It’s damn hard watching your family die, one after another.”
Some would say, “What about heaven? And what about your mouth?”
I’ve read Psalms. Heck, I paraphrased it and posted it online. I know what those poets said to God. If God doesn’t give us extra kindness in tough times, bury me with some Kansas City Joes barbecue sauce and I’ll take it the psalmists when I go.
As for heaven, sometimes it hurts too much to think about our Happy Place. That’s because every sense God wove into us is wide awake, touching and feeling and living the emptiness in a room.
But all of this is life. We live our life. We love our life. And we remind ourselves we love it when it feels like we don’t.
The day ended with upbeat reports from the urgent care visit.
I didn’t do a good job of telling you the story of where I am now with the Casual English Bible® or how I got here and what I’m going to do about it.
We’ll do that later.
Writing for a living is sometimes about writing in the moment and through the moment and not around the moment.
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Beautifully said, Steve. Sorry for your pain. But these are the days that make us feel closest to God — if only because the world is ripping our hearts out.