As Karina's disease accelerated, new spiritual challenges arose. We are so thankful that Karina found a deep spiritual sister in Maggie, who graciously allowed us to share some of her spiritual conversations with Karina at the end of her life.
We do want you to understand that this was a private conversation between Karina and Maggie and it is unedited. We give deep thanks to Maggie was willing to share this precious back-and-forth in the chance that it could help other people facing the challenges and trials that arise at the end of life. We know that Karina would've felt the same way.
Maggie: How do you feel? Like, not physically, but emotionally?
Karina: Horrible to be perfectly honest. But I've already cried, so I have to move on. I'm scared, Tei. I know that when I go to heaven, I'll meet all my family and friends there eventually, but I'm still afraid of leaving them all behind right now. I don't want to go...
Maggie: And what scares you?
Karina: Leaving people behind and going to a place that not many I know have gone before me. I always imagined going to heaven would be like walking into the open arms of my friends who died before me, but I'll be one of the first to go. It just makes heaven feel so... Mysterious? I don't quite know how to phrase it.
Mm hmm... it is mysterious...
But, the way I see it... Paul firmly believed that going to heaven would be better than living "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain".
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." -Revelations 21:4
And, I think... that heaven *has* to be so much better than anything we could ever imagine, and certainly better than living here on earth.
Even though we can't comprehend or imagine it, and all we can do is make speculation, because the Bible doesn't give us a big description on what heaven is like.
But there's so many possibilities...
I guess I'm just a bit more worldly than Paul. Ha... I wish I had his strength. I just feel like letting go of people is hard, and I'm letting go so early. If I die, I won't get to go to college or fall in love or have children. I won't ever know what that feels like. I just.. Get a sense that I'm missing out on so many experiences and friendships. It feels so soon.
Perhaps you will get to be in this blissful place, and watching the ones you love as they live their lives, but with a greater understanding of the purpose of pain and struggles in their life.
Perhaps you will meet new people and make new friends. Meet famous people from history... I wonder if all the children that have died of abortions or in miscarriages, and never got to live their lives at all will be there, and you will get to play with them and have children in some way.
And, heaven is eternity... earth is practically a vapor in that light... no matter how long one lives here on earth. And it will be so full of joy, happiness, and delight that... before you know it - your family will be there, I'll be there, Riza'll be there, and those friends will get to run into your arms.
You'll get to greet *them* at the gates of heaven, introduce them to George Washington and Jane Austen, and all the new friends you've made, show them around heaven, and worship with them at the throne of God.
Oh Tei... -hug- You bring me such comfort. I wish I were with you so I could cry in your arms, but your words alone do me so much good.
I think a lot of people view heaven as merely an escape from hell after you've died. But, it has to be so much more - because God loves us so abundantly He'd send His son to take on the sins of the world of people that hated Him, then I'm sure being with Him in heaven - there must be abundant joy for us there.
Because if He can love us as abundantly as we know He does, how much more so will he shower us with love and joy and blessings and beauty when we're in His presence... when we've run the race He set for us to run, and reached the end. Heaven is the reward of a race well run.
And I imagine you'll be up there, in a completely new, healthy, glorious body completely void of all pain, discomfort, and sickness running through beautiful meadows, or sitting by a brook under the shade of a tree writing books. And every once in a while, you'll look down from heaven and watch your friends and family as they live life, watch them go through joys and heart-break, but... you won't be sad, because you'll have this greater knowledge and understanding of truth, you'll see the bigger picture as God has intended it, and know exactly what's in store for them and all the blessings God has, and you'll be singing and dancing at the throne of God with thousands of other people who have gone before us.
^And I'm *sure* that heaven is even more amazing than all that. Because our finite minds can only comprehend finite things - but God is infinite! And all-powerful! And the most intelligent, creative, loving, good being there is.
All that to say, I understand that you're scared and saddened by the knowledge that you'll be leaving loved ones and have experiences left undone... I am in no way trying to say you have no reason to be sad or scared - only that, while heaven is mysterious - we can think of it as a beautiful mystery.
And I wish I could be with you... I wish that more than anything in the world. But I can take comfort in the knowledge that if I never see you again in this life, I *know* that I will get to spend eternity with you after this life. I know that you'll save a place for me up there, and I'll be there soon, and I'll run into your arms at the gates of heaven and see you there. But until then, I will make the most of the time you are still here, and any time I get to talk to you.
Karina: Whenever I get sad, I'll come back to this chat and read it again. I know I shall treasure your words for as long as I have because they make me feel warm and safe when I read them. Just being told to prepare for The Lord does little to calm my fears, but reading about the joys of heaven gives peace to my soul. Thank you, Tei. You bring me to safety in my times of darkness. I love you so.
Maggie: "Christ is the desire of nations, the joy of angels, the delight of the Father. What solace then must that soul be filled with, that has the possession of Him to all eternity!" -John Bunyan
"We talk about pearly gates and golden streets, and white robes, and harps of gold, and crowns of amaranth, and all that; but if an angel could speak to us of heaven, he would smile and say, “All these fine things are but child's talk, and ye are little children, and ye cannot understand the greatness of eternal bliss, and therefore God has given you a child’s horn book, and an alphabet, in which you may learn the first rough letters of what heaven is, but what it is thou dost not know. O mortal, thine eye hath never yet beheld its splendours; thine ear hath never yet been ravished with its melodies; thy heart has never been transported with its peerless joys.” -Charles Spurgeon
^I found both of those particularly beautiful...
I love you. So, so very much.
* The photo is a picture of sky that I found on Karina's computer. She loved clouds.