My house is completely silent. This is unusual because I have three children and, as far as I know, all of them are home.
I have just fully showered (shaved, conditioning treatment, drank half a cup of coffee in the shower because that’s my new favorite thing) without interruption, and no one was even laying on my bed waiting for me to exit the bathroom. In fact, I’m now fully moisturized and am about to put on my makeup and still no one has communicated with me.
I don’t want to leave my bedroom for fear of breaking this magical spell, but also I’m starting to worry.
I tend toward extremes, so while I can safely assume with almost one hundred percent certainty that my children are still alive and well, a small part of me feels horrified that they’ve spontaneously run outside to play across the street without notifying me. Or that they’ve decided to ride bikes up and down the sidewalk. A brief image of my four-year-old flattened by a speeding car flies through my head. I crack open the door to listen.
The silence persists.
Despite the fact that my kids will play fast and loose with the rules when it comes to things like writing on their bodies with marker or accidentally-on-purpose trying to make a scrunchie out of slime, they would never leave the house without permission. Plus, I don’t hear any screams or sirens coming from the street.
I take a deep breath and sit back on my bed. I suppose none of my children have been smushed.
But it is so quiet. No fighting. No questions. No loud singing. This is very out of character.
I lay back on my bed, wrapped in my towel, and stare at the sunlight dappling my ceiling. Only one option remains.
My children have been raptured.
That would explain everything.
Upon the initial realization that my precious babies have been called forth to the pearly gates, I am a little offended. I sit up to listen more closely. Still silent. Jesus really did come like a thief in the night. But also, why I am I still here? Why didn’t he steal me away too? I mean, I’m the one shepherding their faith. I’m the primary reason these small little sinners know anything, and yet, like the two workers in the field, they were taken, and I was left behind.
There I was naked in the shower drinking coffee with a $4 Trader Joe’s hair mask on my head while they were meeting the King of Glory. I know I’ve said I want better for our children than I want for myself, but this instance seems a little extreme.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Anna. Remember me? I prayed that prayer three times a night for all of second grade. Even though my Sunday school teacher told me once was enough. I knew it wasn’t. I knew there was more to pray and more to do. So I kept praying. And doing. I mean I have my doubts—so many doubts—and granted I’ve been real questiony and angsty for about thirty years, but Jacob literally wrestled you. I figured you could handle me. Is this the apocalypse now? I’m glad the kids get to skip this part, but I’d also really like to avoid the Handmaid’s Tale version of this Earthly experience, so you can beam me up. Anytime now. Just whisper a little “well done my good and faithful servant,” and we can be on our way.
As I lay swaddled in my dampish towel, it occurs to me that perhaps I was not, as the saying goes, left behind. Perhaps this is neither a test nor a punishment.
We probably are in the apocalypse (you’re on the Internet—you know it’s true), so maybe this is my pre-heaven Earthly reward. Don’t tell me that’s not Biblical. It for sure is. Remember that one time in Deuteronomy when Moses didn’t treat God as Holy, and he hit the rock twice instead of once, and God was like “yeah, you’re done now,” but before Moses’ final breath, God took him on a little victory lap and showed him the Promised Land from that hill? This is not the same as that at all, but maybe it kind of is? What I’m saying is that God understands our need for final moments.
God saw me in my summer of non-existent babysitting. He saw my four-year-old climb into bed with me at 2:32 a.m. every single morning since May. He saw my eight-year-old stay up until 9 p.m. asking for just one more chapter of Harry Potter. He saw my five-year-old change her clothes and her underwear three or four times daily, and then He saw me deal with the resulting laundry explosion. He saw me cut crusts of countless sandwiches and make one million snacks and watch all of my children jump into the pool “just one more time, mom!”. He saw that I was with them morning, noon, and night (and middle of the night, and then later on in the middle of the same night) except for when my parents were visiting, and somehow my husband and I managed to turn what could have been a sexy date night into a two hour excursion to Old Navy, wherein we purchased nothing for ourselves but deliberated for many minutes about sparkly jelly sandals and discussed the best use of Old Navy reward dollars.
But this … this is my victory lap. This is my moment on the hill to glimpse the Promised Land unburdened because I know that my children are with the most qualified free childcare provider in the Universe: The Lord Almighty. And He has given me the opportunity to have a solo pre-game to Glory.
I breathe deeply once more and spread my arms and legs out on my bed, basking in the glow of this privilege. As a mother and a wife and a daughter and a teacher and a friend and, at any given time, twenty or thirty other things, I’m always otherwise obligated. But not right now. In this moment I’m not beholden to a schedule. I can hear the birds chirping in the tree outside my window. I’m warm and relaxed. My bedroom is filled with sunlight, and I am already day-drunk on the feelings of freedom.
We all know I’m fully showered, thank goodness. I don’t want to waste my final Earthly minutes doing something so mundane as bathing. I also don’t want to dilly-dally lounging around on my bed—lovely as that is. I need a plan. Today is filled to the brim with opportunity, and I need to steward this gift to the best of my abilities.
I stare at the light fixture on my ceiling. I’ve hated it for the entire time we’ve lived in this house, but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on something different. Well, now I don’t have to think about it anymore. What a relief.
I sit up and stretch a little. See that pile of laundry on the floor? Doesn’t matter. My sort of dying plant in the corner? I don’t need to Google revival techniques. All of this worldly business is currently irrelevant. These tiny moments of to-do list reprieve feel like such a gift. Seriously, if pre-rapture is even a glimmer of things to come, eternity will truly be spectacular.
Now, first things first. I need to get dressed. There is only one outfit option for a day like today: wedding dress.
Don’t laugh. I’m not making some Bride of Christ statement. That dress is the most expensive article of clothing I own, and I only spent part of one day in it. I’m gonna make it zip no matter what, and I plan to trot around in it until the end of my time here. I did not, however, save the shoes, but shoes are overrated. Bare feet for life. Literally. For the rest of my life. I don’t know how many hours I’ve got left.
Next up, Starbucks.
Fine. I know that’s not bougie and cool. I am absolutely certain that there are more delicious coffee drinks all over the world, but on this, my final YOLO, I will settle for nothing less than a Venti Java Chip Frappuccino with extra whipped cream. This step is non-negotiable. Some people might prefer something swankier. Something more pretentious. Something with significantly less fat and sugar. In regular life, I am solidly one of those people. But this is the end times, and I want my final hours to be packed to the brim with high calorie magnificence.
My frappuccino will be consumed on the beach. Yes, the beach is a perfect first location for my day of bliss—I live near one so this pleasure doesn’t require any travel. Travel feels out of the question. Why would I spend my final hours on a plane? And to charter something luxurious enough to be worthy of my grand finale… the planning seems tedious.
From the beach, I’ll head down to the Cajun restaurant that I love but everyone else in my family hates. I will fill myself to the absolute top with jambalaya and jalapeno muffins (and the dirtiest gin martini known to humankind—make that two, actually). Also with a Diet Coke. And an order of the bread pudding. Go big or go home (go big until I go Home? Too much? Yeah, I thought so. I won’t say that again).
Wait. There’s also a Spanish restaurant downtown. With that seafood paella. I should go there instead. And get a delicious glass of red wine. And churros. Obviously. And eat the entire pan of paella while finishing my book. That’s a better plan.
But the jambalaya. It’s all so good.
Both. I’ll do both. Of course.
After that, I think I’ll just wander back to the beach. Likely I’ll need to unzip my wedding dress a little in the back, but I imagine laying my very stuffed and satisfied body down in the sand. Feeling the satin of my dress twirl around my legs as the waves lap at my calves. That seems like the very best way to go.
As I roll over onto my stomach to check the time, I hear the faint sound of hands raking through the LEGO bin and the trill of my youngest daughter’s laugh. My children are still Earth-side.
I appreciate the comforting, familiar sounds of my little people. They’re getting a little louder, or maybe I’m just paying more attention, but I’m actually relieved to have returned to my familiar soundtrack. Still, the re-entry into reality is mildly disappointing. Those few minutes of mental freedom felt delicious.
I’m fine, though. I could probably stand to refine the vision of my final day, so at least now I have a little more time. I say a quick prayer of thanks for my moments of silence and come up with a more reasonable plan for my day of non-raptured normalcy.
I’ll make my bed and hang up all the clothes piled on the bench under the window. If the kids are still playing nicely, I could organize my shoes. Maybe I should finally take a minute to nail down the kind of light fixture would look good in here. I could get a spray bottle and spritz my plant. It’s not a glass of wine and a pile of paella, but productivity can feel good too, right? Probably?
Surely after all that someone will wander into the bedroom and flop down on my freshly-made bed and complain of boredom. Then what?
Well, maybe we could ditch the to-do list and the ceiling fan research and the laundry piles. Truly, I don’t want to spend all my time focused solely on to-do lists, and expectations, and accountability. I can’t traipse the streets barefoot in my wedding dress guzzling high-calorie chocolate milkshakes without consequence, but we can live a little. We can find a lot of freedoms here in real life. Maybe we could get ice cream and take it to the beach. We could splash our feet in the water and feel the waves lap at our toes. We could lay down in the sand and feel the sun warm our bodies. And it might even feel like a little bit of Heaven.
Photo by Lottie Caiella.