Entering the Gates of 🌤️Heaven

While checking into the Hilton in Long Island, New York, this past weekend with my daughter to attend her former college roommate’s wedding celebration, across the lobby, we witnessed a platonic embrace between a man and a woman that stopped us in our tracks and, for a few seconds, so did our world.

Nineteen years ago, shortly after my brother Mike died suddenly from a stroke, someone gave me a wallet-sized, inspirational card with an illustration of a beaming Jesus hugging a young woman. On the card it said, “Entering the Gates of Heaven.”

Whether you are a Christian or not, the image represents the essence of universal love. In real life, if you are fortunate to experience the magnitude of this type of love, it would equate to living a thousand lifetimes onboard a peace train of which the grandest theme is acceptance and harmony so powerful, it reaches and washes out your deepest, darkest, ugliest, most shameful crevices and allows the sunshine to warm, caress and heal every wound, scar and trauma.

Watching this young couple across the way at the hotel, I saw the young man’s face in the face of Jesus pictured on the prayer card, along with the woman’s windblown hair whose silhouette also resembled the image on it.

The woman could barely catch a breath in between her tearful cries, because of the emotional exhilaration, and it felt like the hotel walls would pop open from the joy. For a moment, superimposed on the man was my now deceased son and on the woman was my daughter. Obviously, I don’t know what my daughter’s take on the sight was, but what I saw was a reunion between the living and the dead unfold on a white marble floor of a Hilton hotel.

After the dramatic embrace, it turned out that my daughter knew both of the people, and, in fact, they were all part of the bridal party. The man had just flown in from Los Angeles, California, and the woman had flown in from Richmond, Virginia. The two people, who had embraced, once shared a semester abroad, along with the bride, in Germany. The reunion between them was a telltale sign of how a connection grows through the passage of time and memories shared, painted in easy, carefree, lofty and heavy highlights.

This is how the wedding weekend began. It was a postponed wedding due to COVID-19. A wedding I dreaded attending, knowing the pain points it would touch. Fortunately, I was prepared; warned by a dear friend about the “Mother and the Groom” wedding song. My defense tool was advice from another dear friend Michelle: In essence, I was there to be happier for the bride and groom than sadder for myself. The advice worked! (Thank you, Michelle!)

The wedding began with love between friends reuniting and then moved to a couple sealing their vow of love. One of the readings at the church was from Corinthians 13, 4-7, a favorite among ceremonies and, in fact, one of the readings at my wedding over 30 years ago, a now dissolved marriage. The famous last line states, Love Never Fails.

The way I interpret the passage is that love failed in our family, because many falsehoods prevented it from forming a pure, genuine love and, ultimately, our unit failed. I’m okay with that for today, because if I do not work in truth, there is no hope for love.

Anyway, the wedding crowd was composed mostly of young, brilliant adults who are changing the world in positive ways. During the reception, I never dreamed I would dance without guilt, but I did! I saw it as long overdue exercise, and it worked. I was, however, overpowered by some flashbacks sitting at the table during the reception, remembering how at the last wedding I attended in 2018, my son kept me glued to my cellphone for a good part of the wedding, despairing about his agonizing love life. The last wedding he ever attended was when he was seven. Deep in my pained gut, I knew he would never have an opportunity as an adult to attend a wedding function, which included his own. By the end of that night, half the male bridal party was commiserating with him outside on the patio on my cell phone. I laughed at the situation, feeling we were all working in the solution mode and on that night, it was true.

At this past weekend’s wedding as the night rolled on, when the traditional wedding songs began, I darted into the restroom until they ended. I can participate in life, but also allow for human limitations by guarding myself.

Looking back, the weekend moved along smoothly, a few hiccups, but no hacking or fevers. I’m left meditating and pondering upon genuine, unconditional love and different types of love. When I first married my husband, in my heart of hearts I believed it would last forever. I believed we would retire, rent an RV and take a year to drive to Alaska, adopting as many old, unwanted shelter poodles as we could along the way. In his own words, he wanted the same ending, but midway through the book, I turned the page, and he disappeared. Though he verbalized what he thought I wanted to hear, he failed to verbalize the truth and allow me to accept it and risk my not responding with unconditional love. In this manner, love failed. Fake love always fails.

From that point, the three of us that were left behind tried to survive best as we could. I will always harbor a tremendous amount of guilt today knowing and realizing the mistakes I made as a mother. One thing I always put my faith into, though, was the greatest thing that mattered to me: seeing both my children grow up as happy, thriving adults. I had faith with fabrication. My son held back nothing from me. Incapable of meeting him on his level, because I believed that the solution that worked for me would work for him, I spoke to him as if he were my twin. It was only a matter of time, when everything backfired and my dream shattered in half, with only one-half remaining, my daughter. I never thought I could be more grateful to have her. She is brilliant and compassionate, much like my son was and also gregarious, positive and confident – in that respect, a total opposite of my son. I am over-the-top grateful these days for her existence.

Now, for damn sure there won’t be any earth-stopping reunions in this life between my daughter and her brother or me and my son. I might dance for the sake of exercise, but not for the sake of pure joy. Those days are done and useless to think about like disposed tattered socks.

Fortunately, I have the mental capacity to still love a little and feel a big happy heart for others while throwing off the pitiful feelings for myself. In this way, I did receive a surprise bonus during our wedding weekend. The groom – quiet, introverted, kind, a good listener, considerate and compassionate – reminded me so much of my son. His image comforted me to the point of giving me such a sense of fulfillment that it felt like a spiritual reunion akin to a group hug teeming with lace, glitter and a gown’s trail long enough to almost reach heaven.

Faith Muscle

28 thoughts on “Entering the Gates of 🌤️Heaven

  1. through brash and hawthorn on hands and knees,
    crawling through hurt,
    cuts deep,
    so deep,
    heart aches, heart breaks,
    to find thee,
    yet this blood entwined flows free,

    said angels and ghouls,
    don’t go there,
    this sorrow will save until tomorrow,
    haunted memories we’ll borrow,
    stay here with us, it’s no bother

    get to f**k,
    this pain I’ll bear,
    I’ll not share it with you,
    you offer only dispair,
    I’ll hold this turmoil with care,
    and with soul light as guide,
    I’ll follow until I find the love that hides,

    death thought I have the cut of your cloth,
    and menace I match thee,
    with my axe,
    one blow,
    you have what is mine,
    now let him/her go,
    you have what I love,
    so set him/her free,
    if you’re in here,
    I will find you,
    hold you with care,
    I will carry you in love,
    love to spare,

    then love did spread like stardust from above,
    and a shower did fall this way,
    a story of folded up souls unfolding,
    of bonds to be kept,
    of earnest promises to be met,
    a pledge of seeing one’s self in the other,
    nothing else above,
    nothing else below,
    a love,
    so plain to see,

    flying high,
    hit the floor,
    smash right through the f**King door,
    this pledge of love is like no other,
    the love in you is also the love in me,
    it’s so simple,
    simple as can be,
    nothing else above,
    nothing else below,
    to fill you,
    head to toe,
    a love,
    in defiance of reality,
    no judge shall sit within this Court…..

    *I can’t remember the ending Stacy, may be you can put your own to it… I didn’t think I would remember it either but your story brought it back… I do ordinarily swear too so I hope this does not offend*

  2. This post made me think of a line from Steele Magnolias, “My favorite emotion is laughter through tears,” Truvey/Dolly Parton. This post is a beautiful tribute to profound pain, loss and joy. Thank you for sharing.

  3. One of the temptations of being a “seasoned” adult is to regret choices made that we cannot unmake. Those can be all types of things and I don’t have to think hard to think of a dozen. However by now we know that is wasted energy, when that egg falls off the counter, it’s done – no wishing is going to put it the same. I believe God would want to listen for his reassurances that he accepts you with all your human frailties and errors, just as do for your own son and daughter. Let it go and dance whenever you hear the music, no matter if anyone is watching. I have spent too many years hiding my scars from surgeries now I am at the point where if you don’t like it, I am okay with it – that was the horse I rode in on. – David

  4. exquisitely expressed; when my marriage dissolved some fifteen or more years ago, I wept for a night, deeply and in the morning , I was cleansed; though it doesn’t stop pangs of regret whenever I hear, ‘You were always on my mind’, for instance; I have gained so much joy from living the Buddhist teaching: ‘Be here , now; otherwise you will miss your life’; hope this helps 🙂

  5. This was so moving. The absolute expression of hurt, loss and love. I’m so sorry about all that you’ve been through, but I’m happy that you’ve chosen to embrace truth. You’re a beautiful soul.🤍

  6. Hi Stacy,
    I was so glad to read that you danced at the wedding. Dancing to me is freeing, is letting go, is embracing life. I see you embracing life and it brings me joy.
    I am also grateful you have your daughter to embrace life with.
    Wishing you many more dances.
    Blessings! ♥♥

  7. Your poignant writing and use of descriptive language always leaves me gasping, Stacy. Such beautiful imagery – “a gown’s trail long enough to almost reach heaven.” Oh, my!
    The emotions from that wedding are ones I can easily imagine. A wedding always brings me back to my own grief over the loss of dreams – how could it not?
    I know how grateful you are for your daughter, despite the emptiness that Marshall’s absence occupies. You were so brave and I love how you courageously re-framed your thoughts to help you make it through that event. I believe you did reach heaven that day.

  8. stacy, your love & pain gets reflected beautifully in your word which has a soothing effect on the readers . My son shyam is gone , the other son anand { who also follows you } is divine grace for me as it is your daughter for you . I hope you had time to read my posts sent by mail

    • Dear “Karmic Sister Prema”! We are both very fortunate indeed to have our “living anchors”! I did read your posts sent by mail and love them! I sent response, but perhaps you did not receive it. I will try and find it and resend! 🤍

  9. It’s a strange dichotomy that joy can thrive in the midst of pain. You’re demonstrating how it’s done, Stacy: you reach for the joy while intentionally letting go of the pain. Well done–and thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s