We're walking along a beach. I find myself holding his hand even though we haven't seen each other in years. I keep gazing up at him and smiling. "I've dreamed about this," I say, tears in my eyes.
"So have I."
We keep walking, for miles and miles. My hair is well past my shoulders. It flutters as we walk. A bit of sand gets between my toes, and I would have giggled, but this moment calls for quiet--for peace. A chill runs through my body and I use my free hand to pull a shawl closer to my shoulders. I should have fastened it with both hands, but I'd rather die than lose contact with him now.
After we've traveled a while, we both turn to the sunset. "It's beautiful," I say.
"And it brings a memory with it," he says, knowing more about me than any living person.
"Will you tell me?" he asks, like a child.
I can't help but say yes; he holds my heart. "Once, when I was very young, when colors seemed more important than a career, and playing the violin in a nearby cave was more desirable than anything, I said a prayer."
He smiles. "And what did you pray?"
I look out at the waves tumbling from miles away. "I asked God to give me a sign that He still loved me."
We remain quiet. I bathe in our silence and will the moment to never end.
"Did you doubt His love so much?" he asks.
"I guess I did."
I paused, wondering over the small moments that make up our lives. "Well, nothing happened for the entire day that I prayed. I painted and drew. I went to my cave and played my violin. At one point, I knelt next to a rock and so much sadness overcame me. 'God, don't you love me anymore?' I asked.
"The voice seemed still, small. I didn't hear it at first because it was just a nudge. But before long the words filled my very being and I FELT them. 'Of course,' a voice replied and the air smelled of incense. 'Look,' the voice said.
"I looked at the sunset and my breath stopped. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen in that area. The clouds stretched orange and gold. They were amazing and beautiful. They were my favorite color, chosen as my favorite not because of its hue but because of its representation."
"What does orange represent, to you?" he asks.
"Eternity." It's a simple reply, yet I know he understands. It tells more about me--about the desires of my heart--than almost anything.
"How interesting; eternity is what you long for more than anything," he says. "Some wish only for fame, fortune, or even death after years on Earth--you . . . You, seek eternal life." He pauses, still holding my hand gently. "And you knew God loved you . . . Because of the beautiful, orange sky? You thought he answered your prayer?"
"Yes," I said. "I knew He answered it. In some way, it made me realize how He painted the sky for me . . . for each of us, every single day. His love shines everywhere, through almost everything."
"And that's what you hold onto whenever bad things happen in your life?" He studies a shell by our feet and I don't say a word. "You remembered that, even when I died . . ."
I don't want to talk about his death, not when he's standing beside me. I need to answer his question though. He deserves the truth. "Not at first, but yes. I remembered that sky. I knew how much God loved me, and all of us. I couldn't lose sight of His answer to my prayer or the gifts God has given me each day of my life."
Zeke--MY son just nods. I can tell he's thinking hard about something before he breaks the silence. "I'm glad God picked you to be my mom."
His words hit me like a hot iron, shaking my very core--they're something I always longed for, but never thought I'd hear, even in my dreams.
"But we will see each other again," he continues. "Orange is my favorite color now, too, a reminder that someday we'll be together in eternity."
Tears fill my eyes. He's so strong and healthy, much different from the infant who died after two and a half months of being in the hospital.
He did love me. He WAS proud, although I let him go and pulled the plug. I remember how hard he fought to live--even as he took his last breath in my arms.
"I'm so proud you're my son. You never gave up on life. You never would have given up on me." I try acting brave in that moment, so my pain, guilt and regrets can't hurt him. "I've done everything I can so people will know you; your life won't be forgotten. I can't make up for the past, but I'm trying my best for the future. Every day I spent putting my journal--the moments from your life--into the computer . . . Every moment brought pain, but with it, you came back, just like today."
My eyes close and a deep part of myself starts fading. A heart once full, seems a bit empty, and my fingers close on themselves because HE's no longer holding my hand.
I breathe slowly, willing peace to come again.
It's okay, though. The warmth of his touch stays on my skin like perfume, and somehow it will never leave. "Please know I won't forget you," my voice drifts away just like my son did.
I look back, but Zeke really is gone, washed away with the wind and the waves.
As I turn to the crazy ocean, I don't feel quite as sad or alone anymore because the setting sun proves I'll see Zeke again.
I let go of my shawl and the wind carries it away along with my regrets and pain. My hands fold as if in prayer since the warmth of his touch still lingers.
"Zeke, I love you. Always will." My heartbeat slows and I speak the one question that always plagues me. "Do you still love me?" I ask although he's gone and he's been dead for years.
Then, I feel something--it's just a nudge at first, but so much peace comes as I hear his words. "Of course, I love you, Mama," says a still, small voice. "Look."
My eyes turn forward. The sunset is so warm and vibrant, those colors wrap around me, giving me new reasons to live. I no longer simply long for eternity, but I realize the truth in its meaning--eternity is part of right now, just like my memories and my dreams.
My spirit wakes up and the moment ends. For some reason, I'll never forget it; I saw Zeke as a healthy man--everything I wanted him to become. Plus, he made a promise and I know that kid wouldn't break his word. Someday we'll see each other again, someday beneath a golden sky.
To read more about the book I wrote for Zeke, please click here: