There will be so many people to see when I get to heaven - grandparents, friends, long missed relatives. There will be lots of kisses and hugs. Suddenly, behind me is a voice.
I turn and there he is. My first baby, my Ben. He's blond haired and blue eyed like his brother, but looks so much more like my husband with his prominent nose and wiry build. He's a young man - 17 or 18, maybe - with that thin, lanky, not quite filled out look of late teens. There is an edgy, alternative Christian skater dude quality to him. He is so much cooler then his father and I ever were at that age. Maybe it comes from spending so many years hanging out with the Almighty. I am thrilled to see his face. I hug and kiss him. Something about him still smells like a baby. The faint odor of milk and powder. He's taller than I expected.
We part and he smiles at me. "You look great," he says. "We've been waiting for you."
We? I look around. Ruby. Where is she?
Ben takes my hand. "She's over here. Wait 'till you see her." He's proud of his sister. I want to hug him again.
In a garden, around a bush dripping with sweet smelling honeysuckle, there on a bench, is my Ruby. Her back is to us at first and all I see is her slender shoulders and long black hair. She hears us coming and gets up to greet us. There are no words. I throw myself in to her arms bawling. She holds and comforts me.
"I love you, mom. I'm so happy to see you."
Through tears, I look at her sweet face and see my own. She's a mirror of me - black hair, brown eyes, pointed chin. Like her brother, she is a young woman, a flower in that gorgeous moment just before full bloom. There is so much fresh grace and life in her. I could drink her in forever.
"You're so beautiful," I manage to get out. She laughs through her own tearfilled eyes. "So are you," she responds. And she hugs me again.
I reach out for Ben and hold them both to me, one in each arm, our heads together. Suddenly, "memories" come flooding back to me - images of giving birth them, of their lives as toddlers and children, many happy years we had together. It was as if we never actually lost anything. We were together all along.
Then we are walking on a beach and Reed, also a young man, is with us. The boys are running along the edge of the surf like kids and trying to splash each other. Ruby and I walk some paces behind, watching, our hands entwined, her head on my shoulder.
"I've missed you, Mom."
I kiss her on the head. "I've missed you too."
One of the boys, I think it's Ben, manages to throw the other completely in the water. A full wrestling match ensues. They're now soaked but laughing.
Ruby rolls her eyes. "They do that all the time."
I notice a man standing a short distance away, hands in his pockets, watching the boys in the water. I recognize the figure immediately. I squeeze Ruby's hand and then let go. She squints a little in the sun and then her face lights up.
"Go ahead," I say, "I'll catch up."
I watch as she rushes to her father, getting there just seconds after her brothers. There are back thumping hugs for the boys and then a tender, heartbreaking embrace for Ruby. I can tell he is crying. Ruby reaches up and wipes his tears away. I arrive just in time to hear her say, "I love you, Daddy."
There we are together again, as family, on that gorgeous heavenly beach. My husband kisses me. I hug my children. I am whole.