This morning she walked from her father's house into the cold air with a mile wide smile. Her hand held a small Christmas gift sack and shyly came to me, wrapped her little arms around mine and said, "Papa, I have a present for you."
What a nice way to begin my day. I said, "Thank you, Honey. I'll open it in the truck."
A few minutes later, on the road, I reached and took her gift. A DVD of Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer.
"Do you like it, Papa?" I said of course, thank you, what a nice and thoughtful present. She giggled, then became serious.
"Will I be able to wear pretty clothes in Heaven?" She is such a girl...
Now, I'm thinking, in which direction will this conversation take us this morning, and I need Rev. Paul in the backseat for consultation.
She waits. Those big beautiful brown eyes search my face, her left hand holds mine. So, I give her the answer I know she wants, and in truth, deserves.
"Yes, My Love, you'll be able to wear all the pretty clothes you want in heaven."
Little squeal of delight...
Then, "And, Papa, will God lets me live in Candyland, too, I dreams about Candyland all the time, Papa."
I chuckled, and replied, "Honey, first of all, why did you ask about the pretty clothes?"
"Cause, Papa, I read my bible. And I asked my teacher about what angels wear and she said they were white things, and I asked if it was okay for me to wear my pink pajamas and she said she didn't know but thought it would be okay and Papa I almost didn't sleep all night 'cause I wants to wear my pink pajamas and not some stupid white thing, okay."
She takes a deep breath, cheeks pink. I see a traffic light ahead, and ease up on the speed; I can tell she isn't quite finished. Then, "Papa, will God love me as much as you, and will he wear his gun to take care of me from all the bad peoples like you do?"
Talk about your loaded question....
I thought for a moment, decided to take them in order. "Yes, God will allow you to live in Candyland. Little Bit, Heaven is a wonderful place. There is no fear, no pain, everyone is happy. God loves you, not sure if he loves you as much as Papa, but he indeed loves you. (Do not argue this point with me - I'd give my life for this child, as Jesus gave his for us.)
And Yes, Honey, you may wear your pink pajamas. Sweetheart, God is perfect, and God is all powerful, he doesn't need to wear a gun to protect you. Remember, in heaven people are nice. You'll always be safe in heaven."
We sit in silence for a few seconds, the morning bright. I glance over and she appears to be deep in thought. I make a preemptive strike.
"Little Bit." She's smiles and waits. "Why have you asked Papa about Heaven so much lately?"
In the blink of an eye, and before I have a chance to utter another word, she releases her seatbelt and climbs onto the console of the truck and wraps her arms around me. She squeezes me tightly, and then - "Papa, I read my bible, and it says we'll all be together in Heaven one day, and I worry about it, Papa."
In truth, she's afraid of the unknown.
She will not release me, and in fact is now softly repeating, "My Papa, my Papa, my Papa."
I gently kiss her, and tried again, "Sweetheart, please, snap your seatbelt. Honey, you need not worry about Heaven. It will be a very long time before we both go to Heaven. I'll always be here, Little Bit. Always."
Rips my heart out.
(Post script) For those of you new to my blog, my grandchild, Little Bit, attends a private Christian school. She is six years old, and a bright little girl. She is also my heart.
To be continued, I'm certain.