Our new plans began to fall quickly into place. Tom identified a start date at his new job. We decided that the kids and I would remain in Maryland until our house sold; Tom moved in with my parents in Cleveland. In October, we joined him there and spent a weekend looking for homes. We made an offer on the one we liked the best…a colonial on a quiet street with huge maple trees and a living room with a fireplace. Our offer was accepted. Annie, Bill and I headed back to Maryland to pack and prepare.
During the next month, I busied myself with the details of moving…telling friends and neighbors, cleaning out closets, packing our things. Annie would often keep me company while I was working, passing the time with a running commentary of our activities, as well as asking every question that popped into her noggin. Like most four year-olds, her chatter was incessant, her lyrical voice filling the air, punctuated by giggles and stopping only for sleep.
One particular subject had come up repeatedly during this period of time. “How do we get to heaven?” she wanted to know. I answered her by telling her about Jesus and His promises. I quickly learned, however, that she didn’t want (or need!) that information. “I know THAT,” she would say. “But how do we GET there?” Our conversations went round and round. The question would pop up frequently during the weeks that followed. Tom and I couldn’t satisfy her with any of our answers. She really wasn’t interested in what the Bible said about souls or salvation…she had mastered this in her own four year-old way. What she really wanted to understand was the method of transport: how are we going to get there? We were stuck on this one, and explained it the best we could, but she remained curious (and a bit exasperated with us!)
Annie also was interested in knowing what Heaven would be like. We were able to satisfy her a bit more on this subject. We told her everything we knew, based on our knowledge of what the Bible tells us. We told her that Jesus was preparing a place for each of us, in a house with many rooms, and that it would be just exactly right.
During the evenings, when the kids were tucked in, I spent time drawing the floor plan of our newly purchased house on graph paper. I fiddled with room arrangements, trying to determine how everything would look once we unpacked. I pictured each room, moving graph-paper furniture around on my rudimentary floor plan. It wasn’t the brand-new house I had wanted, but I was sure that we could make it feel like home quickly.
One afternoon, as I was busy with moving preparation, Annie regaled me with tales of her playdate with Colette and her plans for finding the big kids on the playground that afternoon. “Oh, and when I go to heaven,” she said, her voice enthusiastic, “I’m going to paint my room orange. And I’m going to share it with Bill.”