The Breathin’ Part

By Sandra P. Aldrich

. . . absent from the body and present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

Years ago, when my beloved grandmother Mama died, my husband and I decided our then five-year-old daughter, Holly, and six-year-old son, Jay, would attend the Kentucky funeral with us.

During the long drive, we talked about heaven and told our children that Mama— the part we couldn’t see— already was with the Lord. Then we explained the part they would see. She’d be lying in a big box, called a casket, we said, and would be surrounded by flowers. The people in the room, we added, would be sad because Mama couldn’t talk to them anymore.

We explained the service—the hymns, the minister’s comments and even the procession to the cemetery. Then I asked if they had any questions. Jay wondered how the casket went into the ground. But Holly was quiet, her eyes filled with silent wonderings.

When we arrived at the funeral home, we held the children’s hands and walked into the flowered area. As I looked at Mama’s dear, ancient face, I was startled by Holly’s whispered question: “Is she breathing?”

I hadn’t anticipated that.  And it required more than a quick “No, of course not.”

“Well, Holly. . . .” I stalled, searching for something both simple and theologically sound.   

Jay turned from studying the casket handles to face his little sister.

“No, Holly, she’s not breathing. Remember? The breathin’ part’s in heaven.”

Since that long-ago day, I’ve attended all too many funerals. But even through tears, I am comforted as I remember a little voice confidently announcing, “The breathin’ part’s in heaven.”

Lord, you know the grief my heart holds. Please help me sense your presence during this difficult time.

Sandra P. Aldrich is an award-winning author and international speaker. Visit her at sandraaldrich.com

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