Bobbie Hitchcock grew up in a house full of laughter. Seeing her parents so happy left young Bobbie feeling great comfort and peace. So when her father died, 15-year old Bobbie was crushed. Over the next few years, her grieving turned to a longing to know how her father was feeling. He had been one of the happiest men she’d ever known, and the question stayed with her: “Is my dad happy in the other world?”
One night, five years after her father’s death, Bobbie got her answer. She had just woken up and was on the verge of falling back asleep when she saw a beautiful Being, dressed in white. He was standing about 20 feet away, and appeared quite tall. He looked a lot like her dad, but this Being seemed to love her more than anyone had ever loved her. She could feel - and almost see - the love coming out of his chest and wrapping her up like a cocoon.
Bobbie then felt totally transparent, down to every single cell of her body. She knew that this Being could see through her and knew everything about her.
Communicating telepathically, she asked, “Dad, are you happy?” She saw his face burst into “a sun of pure light” and he told her he was very happy. Bobbie then felt immersed in the joy of this love - a feeling so stunning it literally took her breath away.
Bobbie had another question. This time, it seemed that the Being gave her the words to ask: “Dad, is it worth it to live a life that leads to heaven?” In response, the Being totally embraced Bobbie and simply answered, “Everything.”
Although she still wonders about what exactly the Being meant with this final answer, the entire encounter remains a source from which Bobbie has often drawn upon for strength. It reminds her of a joy that is completely real, and always within reach.
Once, while at a particularly low point, Bobbie drove to a quiet parking lot to pray. She remembers crying, “Lord, why can’t I see your face?” In the middle of her despair, she felt a huge “cosmic chuckle” rush through her. Then came a response from the same beaming face she had seen on that extraordinary evening years before. He said, “You did.”
In the months and years since, Bobbie has tried to remember that “this is all funnier than it feels.” In searching the Bible for guidance on how to address life’s inevitable challenges, she feels drawn to the concrete messages of happiness, which to her seem to pop off the page: "Be of good cheer!" "My joy shall be yours!" "Be strong and very courageous!" "Fret not! It only causes harm!" "Joy comes in the morning!"
Bobbie has embraced the message. “Finally I realized that I was being told to choose happiness.” Of course, happiness doesn’t come easily to anyone, Bobbie finds herself working “to let go of endless self-examination, to develop a little trust in the Lord, and to remember that true happiness only comes if I am willing to wish everyone well, all the time, no exceptions.” Each day provides Bobbie with an opportunity to practice these principles. She has found that “the art of learning how to wish everyone well, and simultaneously hold appropriate boundaries in relationships is the task and art I awake to every morning.”
In addition to helping her find humor despite hardship, Bobbie’s experience with the Being continues to remind her of the beauty of being completely transparent and truthful. She now feels convinced that the best way to align herself with the Lord is to tell the truth. To her children, she advises, “If you do nothing else, tell the truth.” That is because to Bobbie, “truth is heaven,” and in fact, “truth on every level is of the Lord, because it enables love.”
Humor and truthfulness have enabled Bobbie to connect on a genuine level with others, including those much different from herself. No matter a person’s religious, sexual or political orientation, she has found that humor and honesty bridge all kinds of divides. In fact, she has found that the differences are “stepping stones for expressions of love” and the connections made with these people “almost always produce a good deal of laughter.”
Over the years, Bobbie has had much to laugh about and celebrate, but has also had much to grieve. She has witnessed a death almost every year of her life – deaths of acquaintances, of friends, and of family members. Grieving these deaths, as well as the death of some of her most cherished dreams, has at times felt too heavy for her to bear. She has had to learn to allow herself the healing power of a good cry, without letting herself sink too deeply into sadness.
Talking to Bobbie today, the kindness in her voice and her ease of laughter tell of a mind unwilling to be shackled by pain and regret. She says, “On days that feel heavy, I know my job is to be happy. Of course, it’s not so easy to be, here. But I try to be faithful to the Lord’s directive through His Word: choose happiness!” It seems that if Bobbie’s father ever wanted to return his daughter’s question, the answer would likely be, “Yes dad. I’m happy.”