Happy 62nd birthday, Papa, your fourth in heaven. Do you celebrate birthdays in heaven? When age and time fade, swallowed in the sea of eternity, do birthdays go on?
If so, I hope you've prepared a feast of Mexican food for all your friends and family there. I can imagine you bent over by an enormous oven in your kitchen, pulling out tray after tray of enchiladas with raggedy pot holders. If I listen carefully, I can almost hear your deep laughter, the way your mouth opens and your eyes disappear in folds of skin, telling jokes to a captive audience.
And you would sit down at a table the length of a giraffe, at least, surrounded by beloved ancients and newfound friends, old acquaintances and strangers who feel familiar, because are there really strangers in heaven? And there'd be Grandpa Ross at the table, Uncle Brian, Cousin Tina, family, too, you hadn't known. Would the angels who watched your back while you traversed the earth be there, swapping stories of adventure, close encounters, moments when they gazed in awe?
At the head of the table, I imagine your most honored guest would sit. His laughter fills the room, intoxicating joy. He's the greatest storyteller, keeper of all the moments of your life, regaling all with memories from your infancy and boyhood, young man and mature adult manhood. His eyes, moist with love for you, twinkle life. His voice captivates. His heart, tender, spills across the table to all who gather. The real feast. He would sing a song for you, the one I wrote that first birthday without you, and tell you we're ok, that we love you. That we miss you.
I hope there are birthdays in heaven.
And Papa, please give God a hug from me.