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Just Like Heaven

What does heaven look like?

It's a question many of us ask, especially after losing someone you love. I lost my grandmother this week. I called her Nonnie. It was the name she wanted to be called by her grandchildren. There were 14 of us. And in her 87 years on Earth, she ended up with 16 great grandchildren. So there were lots of little voices calling her "Nonnie" throughout her lifetime. Family was her top priority, along with her faith. She fed them both in abundance.

Just over three years ago, Nonnie suffered a massive stroke. It took away her ability to speak and walk. She was confined to a wheelchair, and eventually her bed. After decades of caring for others, Nonnie was now cared for by her husband of 67 years, her loved ones, and the incredible people at her nursing facility. Her words were taken from her, but it was clear through her beautiful blue eyes that her soul and faith were still alive. And while she could no longer speak the words, "I love you," she would take your hand in hers and kiss it. That was her way of communicating how she felt.

On the day that she passed, I was with her as she took short, rapid breaths. Her eyes were glazed over, and it was clear that she was about to end one journey, and begin another (that is what my faith believes). I was not in the room for her final breath. But in the days that followed, the most incredible conversation happened between me and my seven year old niece. I want to share this dialogue with you because if you've lost someone you love, or you wonder what heaven might be like, I think you might see the magic that came from the mind of this little girl.

And so, what does heaven look like? I don't know for sure. But I kind of hope it's like this...

I asked to doing a reading for my grandmother's funeral, and I needed something appropriate to wear. My niece Adriana just arrived from her hometown of Charlotte, but wanted to come along for my trip to the mall. With her Kindle in hand, and new reading glasses on, she propped herself into her booster chair in the backseat of my car. I think drive time is the best time to have good conversations. So I took this time to talk to my niece about what to expect in the coming days with Nonnie's funeral services. Adriana is precocious and inquisitive. And it only took moments for her to ask, "Were you there when the angels came down to get Nonnie?" I told her I was not. And then she asked me what angels look like. I gave her my honest answer, telling her that I've never seen an angel with my eyes, but that I believe they exist. I told her that angels are often invisible to us, but that I believe we all have a guardian angel. And when we're afraid, or uncertain, we can ask our guardian angel to help us. Adriana seemed to think that answer was acceptable. And then, without asking or being prompted, she said, "I know what heaven looks like."

Of course, I had to know! I replied, "Tell me, what does it look like?" Her canvas was broad, and it had many colors. This was the description she painted of heaven...

"It has ponies and lots of rainbows! There are rainbows everywhere! And you don't need any money. You can get whatever you want. It's Christmas, and Halloween, and Valentine's Days, and St. Patrick's Day, and all the holidays every day! And people are always happy and smiling. Even when they walk around, they smile. And when they watch tv, they smile too. And you don't need cars, you just float everywhere."

But it didn't end there.

Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven

Then she said, "I wish you could take a rocket ship and go right up to heaven to visit people. And once you get up there, you would look down and probably not want to come back because you love heaven so much. But you would have to come back because your mommy, and daddy, and other people would miss you."

I asked her if there was music in heaven. At first she said no. But then I led the witness, and said, "But music is one of the greatest things on Earth." So she thought about it for a second, and said, "Yes, there is music. And this is how it happens. Jesus puts a spell on everyone, and then their phones go up into the sky. And that's how there's music in heaven."

Amazing! A beautiful imagination, with a touch of technology. Yes, it's true, if unicorns exists, then my niece Adriana is surely one among us. A mind that's pure and filled with imagination. Which makes me wonder, maybe our imaginations are what heaven is like?

Nonnie would love this description of heaven. So here's to hoping that she's riding a pony, across a rainbow sky, with a pot of homemade soup at the end (because who needs a pot of gold when you don't need money in heaven).

 

Andrea Vecchio

About the author

Andrea Vecchio (@andreavecchio) is the founder and author of Live Your Playlist, creator and host of the digital series Driving Cleveland, motivational speaker, life strategist, and Emmy-nominated television host.

17 comments on “Just Like Heaven”

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      That little girl is a gift, they all are. It was a magical conversation!

  1. Sheree Masucci Reply

    What a beautiful letter. Children are so precious and pure. God bless her. I pray for you and your family on the loss of your Nonni. My children called my mom Nana now I hear it from my grandchildren. May God bring peace and beautiful angels to help you in your time of loss. Oh and music too.

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Sheree,

      Thank you for your beautiful comment, it makes me smile. I know we definitely have a sweet angel in heaven sending us rainbows and music. And thank God for children and their views of the world. Be well.

      Andrea

  2. Melody Reply

    You are all in our prayers! This is so sweet❤️ Out of the mouths of babes! What a great description.

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Thanks Mel xxoo. Our little Adriana is pretty amazing. I can only imagine the stories she and your girls would write together :)

  3. Jane Reply

    Absolutely precious. Thank you for sharing. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your Nonna. It was a beautiful description of what heaven looks like. May it bring you peace.

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Thank you Jane. Heaven through the eyes of my young niece definitely brings a sense of peace.

  4. rick myers Reply

    am so sorry for your loss. she was a big part of your life. dont let this time of loss. keep you from remebering. whos she was. and what she was to you. she is a better place,no pain. and smiling from above. make her proud

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Yes, I believe that all of those things are true Rick. And I know that our loved ones are always with us.

  5. Connie Cotton Reply

    Andrea……
    Your sweet nonnie shared a room with my Aunt Eleanor until she passed one year ago this week. Your grandparents were lovely people and I saw first hand when I visited my aunt how devoted they were to each other. I’m so sorry for your loss and share your sadness. Grandparents are special people in our lives. I was fortunate enough to know all of mine and miss them very much.
    I also worked many years ago with your grandma Mary Jo at Michael-Angela’s in North Ridgeville. She also was such a lovely lady and always looked out for me in what was a very high spirited salon!! I enjoyed working with her and learning from her.
    Hoping these next few days, as you celebrate your nonnie’s life, are special ones for you!!

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Dear Connie,
      Thank you for this beautiful message, what a gift you’ve given to me! I remember meeting your sweet Aunt Eleanor. She was a great roommate to my grandmother. I’m sure they’re having lots of laughs and conversations up in heaven now. And wow, what a small world – I remember my Grandma Mary talking about her days at Michael-Angela’s (in fact, I still have a green comb that she used during those days). I shared your message with my parents, and they loved hearing it. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your memories. xxoo
      Andrea

  6. Jane Kauffman Reply

    Your Nonnie was a special lady. When she walked with her friends around the block she would always ask about my great-grandchildren. I worked with her when we volunteered at St. Jude many times. The devotion of her family was, I am sure, a great comfort to her. Especially your dear Grandfather. May she rest in peace in the beautiful vision Adrianna has of heaven.

    • Andrea Vecchio Andrea Vecchio Reply

      Nonnie loved taking those walks around the neighborhood. I’m sure she missed them these last few years. Thank you for always being so kind and thoughtful to my family Jane, you are a wonderful person!

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