How Far Is Heaven, Exactly?


I’ve been struggling today with flashbacks.  Very vivid, very strong, clear, painful flashbacks.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that I’ve been packing up boxes of books and CD’s from the bookcase that sits in the corner where Larry’s hospice bed was… the corner where Larry died.  I’m not sure.  At any rate, I felt compelled to post this piece that I wrote last fall near the one year mark of Larry’s death.

My intent with this piece is not to cause anyone to have anxiety or depression as a result of reading it, but rather to know that questions are a normal part of the grieving process.  It’s okay to wonder things like “where is heaven” and “do you miss me too”?

I would also like to emphasize that each time I have questioned God on the location of heaven I have received an image… a picture in my mind of Jesus.  In one arm Jesus is holding my beloved Larry and in the other he is holding me.  I know this is true!  In this way the Holy Spirit is reminding me that even though we are apart, we are still connected in the love of Christ.  And it doesn’t really matter where heaven is… only that heaven is!  This I also know is true.

This image of Christ’s embrace has gotten me through almost every day since Larry died.

How Far is Heaven?

By Shelley Ann Brandon  October 12, 2010

I was there.  I wasn’t just in the room, I was there!  No one was closer to Larry physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually than I was.  I was there.  I held him in my arms for the two plus hours that it took for his body to labor through the delivery of his spirit into the hands of our Savior.  I was there.  But I still don’t get it.  My husband died literally in my arms.  My head was on his chest; I felt each and every body wracking breath that shook my soul as well as his.  I heard every heart beat no matter how faint, even the last one, struggling to hear just one more – oh please God just one more – even though I’d been praying for God to please stop Larry’s suffering – Please God no more, don’t make him go through this anymore.  I can’t take it… I can’t take it. I was there when Jesus stopped the suffering and took Larry home.  I was right there, breathing in his last breath, but I don’t understand… where did he go?  I know he went to heaven.  Larry’s relationship with Jesus was his greatest source of pride, his comfort and joy.   Even though his right side was completely paralyzed, he was reaching for heaven with his left arm just that morning when Noah and I woke up.  Noah even asked me why daddy’s arm was in the air.  I know where he went, but where is that?  Where did he go?

How can someone who was so full of life one year before, someone who was larger than life, someone who brought brightness to life wherever he went, how could he just not be here anymore?  What happened?

How can this man who I love more than my own life be gone? We promised each other that we would never leave, that we would grow old together, how could he leave me?  Larry was everything to me, he was my husband, my best friend, my business partner, my ministry partner, my lover, my dreams, my future, the father of my sons. How can he just not be here anymore?

After everyone had left the house and the hospice nurse and I had washed Larry’s body and put him into some clean pajamas, I let the dogs back into the house.  These wonderful poodles that had so faithfully guarded their dying master would no longer go near the empty body of their dead master.  The dogs had figured it out, but I was still holding on.  Where was he, where had he gone?  Where is heaven, anyway?

I finally allowed the hospice nurse to call the undertaker to come get him.  I didn’t want them to come get him because I knew that when they took him away I wouldn’t see him again this side of heaven, and I don’t know where that is.  While we were waiting, Layne (the nurse) and I were talking, and I was holding Larry’s cold, lifeless hand.  I had to keep pushing down on his fingers to keep them curled around mine.  My hands were already starting to feel empty and lonely.  I tried to kiss his lips, but they were cold and stiff, he wasn’t there, he’d already left.

I was there.  Oh my love, I remember the moment you left, but I just don’t get it.  Even now, a year later, I still don’t get it.  If I close my eyes I can hear your laugh.  Certain songs can bring back moments so real that my body aches to touch you one more time, to lay my head against your chest and feel your arms around me.  The scent of your cologne on my pillow each night,ummmm , yummy.  Oh, how I long to smell your neck again. Where are you?

Where is heaven?  Is it beyond the stars? Or is it all around us on the other side of a mirror that we simply cannot see through?  Are you millions of light years away?  Or are you as close as my next breath?  Each and every one of us is only one heartbeat away from God, so does that mean that you are only one heartbeat away as well?

I miss you so much. When is the pain supposed to go away?  Scripture tell us that there are no tears in heaven, so does that mean you don’t miss me?  Where are you?  And where am I supposed to go from here?

————————————————————————————————————————–

Where do I go from here?  I go to the cross.  I go to the embrace of Christ… one arm around Larry and one arm around me… apart and yet still connected…

And questions are okay with God… after all, He’s the only one with all the answers!These pictures where taken at the Compassion International Headquarters in Colorado Springs on our last vacation together before Larry got sick.  We were both sitting in the lap of Jesus… a life size bronze sculpture they have in their lobby.   Coincidence?  I don’t think so…

4 thoughts on “How Far Is Heaven, Exactly?

  1. Shelley, I sit here with tears in my eyes. This is beautifully written. I felt your emotions. I wish I was there to hug you. I wish I was there as I would love to help you and Noah pack and see all that God has for you in this move. I am praying for you Shelley. Thank you for sharing your heart and with such honest emotions!

  2. Thank you Sheryl, this is a question that I still struggle with. I know he is in heaven with Jesus… but how could he be here with me one moment and then just be gone? And where is heaven? It can’t be millions of miles away for him to be there so quickly,…so many questions… and always the image of the shared embrace! God is so good!! He loves us even when we wonder!

  3. wow..is all I can say. God has had you on my heart for a good month now..straight..almost every single day..I can see why now..God has had me pray for you…I love you and I wish I could take this suffering away from you. I wish I could have meet Larry. He sounds like such a man of God..someone I would want to know. Love and hugs your way!

  4. Thank you Laura. Please don’t take the post in a completely negative light though, hon. That’s why I haven’t posted this one before now. My goal with this blog is to be transparent in my grief… so that others will know that what they are feeling isn’t abnormal or “wrong”. But I don’t want to make any feel sorry for me or get depressed because of the emotions I express either. Larry was amazing and I’m sure he’s totally amazing in heaven as well!! 😀 If you take anything with you from this piece, please let it be the shared embrace with Jesus. We are all connected with the ones we love that have gone before us, in a shared embrace with Jesus, and in that way they are not so far away. Love you too!

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