I was six, on the bottom bunk, watching a fan across the room slowly oscillate back and forth. I stared at the silver circle at its center and traced it around and around with my eyes.  Forever is a scary thing.

Scary enough to summon my mom.  She sat on the edge of my bed and helped me imagine a place filled with all my favorite stuff: ice cream, soccer, grand parents, water slides.  Nothing all that biblical but still very comforting, or at least distracting. “If God could make so many things you love down here, just imagine how fun Heaven will be,” she said. 

The concept of eternity, regardless of where it’s spent or how, has always bent my brain into a panic tinged knot. I wrote in my high school journal: “I don’t like either option: There is either no heaven and this life is too short.  Or there is a heaven and it lasts forever.”

Apparently, crazy can be passed down.  Gabriella, age almost seven, woke up this morning with a concerned look on her face.  She moped around all morning, curled up in a ball on the couch and watched Veggie Tales, until finally she broke the silence.  “How long will we be in heaven?”

“Forever,” I said.

“Then when does it end?” she asked, her eyebrows shoved together in anguish as if every nose hair had just been pulled.

“It doesn’t,” I said.

She just stared at me as if I’d unplugged her life support or shot her cat.

“I don’t like how that feels,” she said.

“I know.”

What helps me get my arms around the vastness of time is Emily Dickinson who once said “Forever is composed of nows.” Forever has already begun. This moment, this now, is part if it.  And in this moment I am glad to be alive, not at all wishing the next moment doesn’t come.  Forever forward is just more moments like this one, moments I’m glad to have and hope never run out.

Now, how do I explain that to an almost seven year-old?  This parenting stuff is what keeps me awake at night now.  Mommy!