Today is Uncle Gary’s birthday. His fifth in Heaven. I’m trying hard to imagine what a 54th birthday in heaven would be like, but I would guess it’s not too different from any other day. I mean, it’s Heaven. If they could do anything special to celebrate and improve your birthday, they would do it every day.
And I suppose, if it’s any sort of Heaven at all, Uncle Gary got to sleep in, as “The Waking Up Thing” was always rather difficult after a great night of “Bed Sleeping.” And you know the mattresses in Heaven are literally like sleeping on clouds, so it just has to be tough waking up from that. (Then again, maybe the spirits of the righteous dead don’t need sleep. In which case, maybe his birthday morning would start with the equivalent of breakfast.) I’m assuming that Uncle Gary’s birthday breakfast of choice would be a breakfast sandwich from Einstein Bros. Bagels. It became a fast favorite of his in Vegas, so it has to be equally as desirable when surrounded by pearly gates and lilting harps and such.
(Of course, being a spirit, Gary would only be eating a spirit bagel sandwich. And yet because he still occupies the same physical dimension as the spirit breakfast, I assume his spirit body eats the spirit breakfast with the same joy that his physical body took regular bagel sandwiches, densities of matter being equivalent and all that. But I digress.)
So, Gary wanders in, and is greeted by a chorus of angels singing “Happy Birthday” to him, orders his bagel, and is off to work. (Work in Heaven? Of course there is work in Heaven…but it's only the kind of work that you love and makes you eternally happy.) Naturally, you can request to have your birthday off, but Gary would never do that. Because his job is to compose and play beautiful music all day long. You know, contributing to that Heavenly atmosphere. Bringing peace and joy to all those who hear it. And if you knew Gary at all, you know he wouldn’t miss a day of that. Even on his birthday.
So after his shift at the celestial piano is over, I figure Gary would probably receive a note from a heavenly messenger saying that he was sent another one of those pesky balloons with a birthday card from his niece. Of course the Hosts of Heaven are too polite to say or do anything to prevent the balloon messages from being received into the eternities, but I’d imagine having a foreign object (like a balloon) wandering up through your cloud-bank floors at all times of the day would get a little distracting.
Gary tries not to get too emotional, but he can’t help it. Getting teary-eyed is still in his nature and he loves getting those cards on his birthday and Father’s Day. So he reads it and sets off on his “birthday mission,” as he started referring to it a few years back.
You see, in Heaven, I feel that you get one small wish or desire of your heart granted to you on your birthday. (That’s where the wishing on your candles thing came from.) So Gary sets out to talk with our Savior. And after waiting in line (it’s not just his birthday, after all) (and since time has a different meaning in Heaven than it does here, it’s not annoying to wait your turn), it’s his turn to petition the Lord.
Gary kneels down at the Lord’s feet; balloon and birthday card still in hand, and simply looks up. He doesn’t have to ask, as his wish is the same as it is every year…to see his family again. To be able to say “Goodbye.” Because nothing was more important to Gary in this life than his family.
“Now Gary,” the Lord says, taking Gary’s hand in His, “We’ve been over this. You can’t just go back. First, it would freak everybody out. Second, your body was in some serious trouble and you don’t want to go back to that painful state. Third, you’ll see them all again soon enough. And fourth, you have family here that would miss you just as much. So let’s settle on your alternative.”
Gary sighs. “Alright.”
And he’s not upset, because he knows the Lord is right. And when he arrives back at his heavenly mansion, he is thrilled when his Grandma Myrtle comes out of the kitchen with a spirit cake she baked from scratch. And his Grandpa Ray pats him on the back and wishes him a happy birthday. Which inevitably starts the endless hugs and kisses and birthday wishes from everyone from his Grandma Vivian, to his cousins, down to his great-nieces and great-nephews that we still haven't met, but who love and adore him as much as he does them.
And it’s then he realizes how grateful he is for the concept of eternal families and that we will all be together again eventually. So with a smile on his face and a room full of spirit friends and family, he sits at his piano and plays.
And knows that he is home.