We are at the fair, and the sun has disappeared below the treeline, so that the illumination from the rides has become our daylight. We are watching Caleb twirl and spin about in some contraption that his brothers are either too afraid or too small to ride, and which his parents are too old to endure. Eli tells me he has to go to the bathroom. We set off toward the restrooms, just me and Eli, which is his favorite. It doesn’t matter what we are doing, you see, so long as it is just him and me.
After the restroom we pass by one of those funhouses, the kind with moving floors and wobbly steps and distorted mirrors. “Can we go in?” Eli asks.
We go in. He is holding my hand, and then he is ahead of me, giggling, darting like a pixie over the spinning wheels set in the metal floor, between the punching bags strung up like a moving wall, up the steps fashioned for cleverer feet than mine. I try to keep from falling, and I hurry to keep up, but always he is ahead of me, just around a corner, going ever upward, laughing, laughing. It comes to me that this must be what the final road to Heaven is like, especially when one of your children has gone before you — a path that leads upward, your wobbly legs just barely carrying you the last mile of the way, and the sound, above you, of a child’s joyful laughter.
When we are outside I pull him into me and say, “I love you. Do you know that?”
“Yeah,” he says, “I know.”
No you don’t, little one. Not until you hear the laughter of your own child like angels singing, and feel your heart flowing over. And when you do, remember these two things: that I have loved you this way, and that God loves you even more, with love that is unshakable, unchangeable, unfathomable. Remember this great passion with which you are loved, and carry it with you into the darkness, and be not afraid.