Lisa stared down at the words carved into the stone face of the grave marker. She wanted to cry, but she had no tears left. They’d all been used up.
It was weeks ago when she’d heard the news that Grandma was sick. Then she’d overheard her mom and dad talking about medicines and machines and strange sounding treatments at some hospital. She’d even visited the building where Grandma was staying, but she couldn’t go inside because there was a danger that she could become sick, too. All she could do was call out “I love you” to a window high overhead where a busy, masked nurse appeared from time to time. Lisa had been told that Grandma was in that room, lying on a bed, trying hard to breathe.
She understood that there was something called COVID-19 stalking the world. She’d lived in fear that she or someone she knew would catch it and become very sick or even die. Sure enough, it happened. Now, Grandma was gone. All that remained were happy memories, words on stone, and an empty place in her heart.
“Why,” the girl whispered. “Why did this happen?”
Lisa’s mother walked up beside her and took her hand. They stood for a long moment gazing down at the marker. When mother spoke, her words were faltering and sad. “Grandma died because of sin,” she said.
Lisa blinked. “Sin? I thought she died of COVID -19.”
“Sin made COVID -19 possible,” Mother stated. “Without sin, nothing gets sick, nothing becomes sad, nothing dies.”
“I hate sin,” Lisa said. “It took away all my tears.”
Mother sat down on the ground beside the freshly turned soil of the grave and Lisa joined her. The two listened to the birds overhead and felt the cool wind on their faces. “Grandma loved birds,” the woman said. “She knew their songs. Remember?”
“Yes,” Lisa agreed. “And she taught me some of their names. She taught me robin and chickadee and sparrow hawk. She taught me about mallard ducks and Canada geese and hummingbirds. I miss her so much.”
Mother nodded. “She did that because she wanted you to know about the two worlds.”
“Yes. Earth and heaven. On Earth, where sin is, there’s sadness and crying. In heaven, there is only happiness and love.”
Lisa frowned. “But Grandma was always happy. She loved people. And she lived on this Earth.”
“That’s because she brought heaven to Earth,” Mother said. “She wanted everyone to know that there can be more than sin in our lives. We can enjoy a little bit of heaven right here, right now. When Satan says, ‘Be unfair, be disrespectful, look down on people, take away their freedoms,’ Grandma insisted that we act like God and be respectful, be fair, allow people to be who they are and follow their dreams. And, while we’re doing that, we can share how much we love Jesus and tell them how much He loves them.” Mother smiled, gazing up at the branches of the tree high overhead. “The birds have their song to sing. So did Grandma. Her song was love.”
Lisa nodded slowly, letting her mother’s words penetrate her breaking heart. “Song of love,” she thought aloud. “I like that. That’s the song that Grandma taught me. That’s the song I’m going to sing whenever I think of her.” She glanced over at the marker. “Thank you, Grandma,” she whispered. “Thank you for teaching me your song of love.”
The two stood and walked away through the afternoon shadows, leaving the cool wind to whisper through the branches and the birds to sing their songs among the leaves.
By Charles Mills