On Angels and Heaven
"When I die, I will be alive again",
Luijoe (with excitement), a month before he became an angel.
A month or so before Luijoe went to heaven, he was already asking me questions about angels, death, heaven and graves. I don't exactly remember when Luijoe started to ask me those things. At that time, I thought he was just curious . Luijoe had been attending an Augustinian-recollect (Catholic) school for 2 years so I thought he was just a very devoted Christian. Now that he is in heaven, I wonder if he was preparing me and himself for that day.
It must have been sometime during Holy week. He asked how Jesus could be alive again. I said he rose from the dead and on the third day he went to heaven. Then he asked me "If I die mama, will I be alive again?". I explained that when we die, we will live forever, through eternal life in heaven. The next day, he suddenly said "When I die, I will be alive again". But I immediately corrected him and said that yes, you will live forever but in heaven.
"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." (John11:25,25)
Then he asked me about my mom and why she died. I told him that my mom is now an angel in heaven. He was very concerned that I had no mother but I told him that my mom was watching me all through the years. Then when he asked me, "Mom what happens when I die? Is it painful?". I was taken aback by that question but I didn't want to over react so I said "Your grandma Sally will welcome you at heaven. There is no pain there". I really didn't think any of it. Luijoe was always full of questions so this was nothing new. Then he said, "I want to see your mom's grave when we go to Cebu, mama. " .
A week before he died, he wanted me to pray with him as he always does before he sleeps. We began to pray most of the prayers in his Favorite Catholic Prayers book. Then our topic went into angels. With a serious look on his face, he asked "Mom, who goes to heaven?". I told him that good boys go to heaven and usually they become angels. He said " I don't want to go to hell". Then I hugged him and said he was a good boy and he would never go to hell. He continued praying .
Another question comes up , "Are the clouds heaven?". I told him "I'm not sure if the clouds are heaven but it's somewhere up there and hell is down there ". He would never tire asking the same questions all over again. It was like he was reassuring himself that there were angels that protected him and that heaven is a beautiful place to go when someone dies.
One of his favorite poem/prayer was Footprints. It's not exactly a prayer but he understood the message it brought. I promised him that we would play footprints in the sand when we get to the beach.
Art Work by Danny Hahlbohm
Playing footprints in the sand was the last thing Luijoe and I did at the beach . That was the last time I saw him alive.
Then one night while we had our usual prayers before bedtime, he pointed to the picture of St. John the Apostle which was found in his Rosary Prayer book. I explained that Jesus told John to take care and comfort his mother when he dies. Luijoe seemed to be touched by St. John but the following nights, he kept repeating the same question and this time he was asking how John was related to Mother Mary. I found that to be a very deep question and I just said he was one of Jesus' apostle.
Now I realized the meaning . It was like Luijoe was making sure I would remember John . I did remember our conversation during the wake .It touched my heart that my son was worried about my grief.
On the night before our beach outing to Cebu, Luijoe packed his prayer books like he always does whenever we travel.
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In Heaven We'll Understand
Not now , but in the coming years
It may be in the heavenly Land,
We'll read the meaning of our tears:
Some day in Heaven we'll understand
We'll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why smiles have ceased when just begun;
Some day in heaven we'll understand.
Then trust in God, through all thy days
Fear not for He doth hold thy hand;
But whilst you live, still sing and praise;
Some day in Heaven we'll understand.
(Anna Lee Edwards McAlpin)
One of Luijoe's last photo, an hour before he went to heaven. We were playing footprints in the sand before this pic was taken.