We know the theoretic heaven… the one way up in the sky…far, far away. And we’re fairly comfortable assuming when older people die they leave here and go there. Bright, shiny… simple, beautiful… right?
But, when death steals the young… like Mr. Spafford’s family and Eric Clapton’s young son… and in our case … Jamie – my 17 year old nephew who was more like a son… when death steals these… Heaven draws near.
Yes, Jamie was the first born of my younger brother. But, he became like a son to me. Likewise with Michael and Holly – his younger siblings. Jamie, a high energy child, had the most infectious laugh. If he got to laughing, the whole crew around him joined in. We couldn’t help it. His joy – contagious.
He and Heidi played and interacted so well together. More like siblings. He irritated her, and she irritated him. But, they also could get each other to laugh. One summer, right after we moved to Tulsa (well before caller id), I remember them prank calling televangelists. Just talking about it, they’d both laugh so hard.
Jamie was very smart, organized, and articulate. When he came to visit, he always asked me to play catch with the football. I loved catching up with him casually as we spiraled the ball back and forth.
He was also tender hearted, sensitive, and thoughtful. I always enjoyed talking to Jamie because he had something to say worth hearing. He also had quite the quick wit. Only most comments came out quietly – he could make you laugh out loud.
We spent many days together when Carlton’s lived on the farm in Wyoming. But even when they moved, we spent as much time as we could together. If we could work it out, Jamie often travelled with Karen, Heidi and me. One spring break Karen and Heidi and I filled our Lincoln Town car with Kathy, Jamie, Michael to go visit Great-Grandparents who wintered in Florida. We drove from southeast Wyoming through Texas along the gulf states. Most of the trip the kids sat in the front seat with me. A lot of laughing from those three as I made up stories for hours.
Some years ago some dear friends of ours gave us a portrait of Jesus laughing – it is a respectful rendering of Him. And I think accurate, too. Jesus has a sense of humor. I think about the unparalleled joy of heaven. The unending, purest kind.
My initial exposure to suicide actually came just a few years before Jamie’s death. One of my closest friends in high school was one of the paramedics called to the scene. One of our high school buddies … gone … by his own hand. I grieved for both my friends. The one who died. And the one who had to live with that scene in his memory.
I think the Lord gives us an imagination to empathize and offer compassion. I remember trying to think what could have been so bad… His mind must have been utterly distraught and the burden he felt… too much to bear alone.
“… would you help me stand if I saw you in heaven?”
-Eric Clapton “Tears in Heaven”
When the call came in about Jamie… suddenly, earth’s hurt and heaven’s hope collided… so real. So intensely personal, now.
…continued Uncle Tim… Heaven Draws Near (part 3)