"home" for me is austin, texas. at least on this earth. did i grow up there? no. i was born and spent my first 8 years in nw arkansas, 10 years in sachse, tx (ne dallas suburb), and 5 1/2 years in lubbock, tx before i "grew up" and entered adulthood which has taken me to more cities than i can count.
why is austin "home"? so far, we've only lived there for 11 1/2 months. maybe the obvious choice is that our son is buried there. but i have to go back further to explain why it is "home" and why matthew is buried in austin. when we were in california for the first 2 years of our marriage, ken found out that he was going to graduate school for his next set of orders. he was going to have 1 year to obtain a masters degree in engineering and it would be his full time job for the navy. since ken had to promise my dad when he asked for my hand in marriage that he wouldn't move me to north dakota when we retired, i secretly pushed ken to apply to UT. if i recall ken's other considerations were nc state and ?? (i can't remember). he had been to austin when he was stationed in corpus christi for flight school, but after a quick trip to visit again, he was sold! yay! i would make this north dakota boy an adopted texan after all! :)
since houses were cheap (well, cheaper than california where we couldn't afford anything), we decided to buy, which meant putting down roots! yay! subsequently, after finding an awesome church, meeting even more wonderful friends in addition to my best friends who already lived there, we found a place called "home." more than arkansas, dallas, north dakota, etc., austin felt like home to us.
i'm amazed at how many military couples are only a few years from retirement and have no clue as to where they want to end up. for ken and i to have been at his halfway mark to retirement four years ago and know where we would end up, i was thrilled!
fast forward 3 years to us sitting in the nasty, filthy office of the greek nicu, 15 minutes after we got to put our hands into the incubator and touch our son's dead body for 5 minutes.
greek nicu worker: "what do you want us to do with the body. you take it?"
me: "no. we're contacting the US base to help us. she will tell you in greek what we want."
greek nicu worker: "you bury him here in crete?"
me: (what i wanted to say was: HELL NO! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? HE DIED BECAUSE HE WAS BORN HERE WITHOUT ENOUGH MODERN AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY OR MEDICAL EXPERTISE .) what i said was: "no, we're taking him 'home'."
"home" was and still is austin. home is where my son's body lies in the ground. i remember talking to my dad right after matthew died and he asked me where we were going to bury him. my response was austin and my dad asked if i was sure we would end up there. "we plan to" was the best answer i could give but it's one that i am counting on.
however, matthew's "home" is not in austin...it's in heaven. where he is dancing with jesus. sometimes i like to think matthew sees us and cries because he misses us. but the truth is, he doesn't cry. in fact, he doesn't understand why i do. see, he's in an amazing place where there are no tears. only joy.
sometimes i have to remind myself of this description of heaven several times a day so i can breathe.
there are days that i just want the pain and longing for my son to stop. even though i know it never will until i see him in heaven. i cry out to jesus and beg for days where i will experience only joy. but i know i won't in this world. it doesn't mean that i don't try to be joyful in my temporary residence here on earth. i do. but my only joy lies in the fact that i know my Savior intimately and one day i will meet Him in heaven. and it's there that i will get to see my beautiful son's face again.
as i think back on my life to see if i remember experiencing only joy the entire day, i can't think of a single one. but, you ask, what about your wedding day? well, it was almost the most only joy moment of my life up until that point. it was an amazing day where i got to marry the kindest, gentlest man i have ever met. i couldn't believe he picked me and wanted to spend the rest of our lives growing old together! indeed, it was the most joy i had felt in my life up until that point. but joy turns to disappointment and frustration when flower girls are 40 minutes late causing weddings to start late giving you very little time for sunset photos. joy gets blindsided when you're sweating through your wedding dress because of record-breaking heat in september and the a/c at the reception barely works. :)
by far the birth of our daughter was the closest only joy day we've experienced. we were so thankful for our miracle baby who survived a cord knot, but i would not be honest if i didn't tell you that we both broke down when she was in our room realizing that this is what it was supposed to have been like with matthew.
the point is that this life here on this earth cannot be only joy. there is no single day that will be perfect because it's not designed to be.
when i fully embraced this, after my son's death and 17 years after i came to know Christ, i've never been more free to experience God's love and the hope we have in that only joy to come.
heaven is only joy and that's why we can have peace knowing that it will be unlike anything we have ever experienced. take the very best day of your life. and imagine it to be a million times better; a day with no mishaps, no disappointments, no heartbreak...only joy.
heaven is our perfect, only joy "home".
but it's only yours if you know for sure you'll be going there...
i hope you do.