I remember a conversation I had as a therapist with a young mother. She came to see me not because of some crisis, but in tears nevertheless over the passage of her children’s childhood right before her eyes. “These are such precious, precious days,” she wept, “and they are passing so quickly I can’t hang onto them. I can hardly bear it; I’m grieving during days that ought to be joyful.” Few of us remember the taste of our first ice cream (what flavor was it?), the first book we read ourselves, our first kiss. We can barely recall that vacation we planned for so many years; it was over in mere weeks.
I name this loss because it is loss—tragic, sweeping, and expansive. Your entire life, every dear moment, is currently being swept downstream from you even as you read this sentence. It does such harm to the soul and our life with God. All good things come to an end. I hate that phrase, hate it like the sound of sirens, the sound of dirt falling on a casket.
Lest we despair, God has given us “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT) and to be quite specific, it includes the restoration of every precious day of our lives. Heaven is not a memory wipe. It is the time and capacity to truly relish the story of our lives, to see the hand of God in it all (how many times angels rescued you), to be vindicated, and even rewarded. “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:37–40). Notice that this promise cannot be fulfilled unless our stories are known, down to the smallest details.
Your story matters. Your story will not be lost. But I wrote more fully about that in a book entitled All Things New, so I will only mention it here. All good things do not come to an end. Not even close.
In the meantime, God in his mercy has given us a grace for this recurrent, incessant, unavoidable, daily experience of loss, and that gift is memory. Through which—if we make use of it—we can go back and drink more deeply, savor, take in the full gift of wonderful moments great and small (for the full gift can never be taken in during the moment).