Saturday, July 31, 2021

My kind of heaven

| September 20, 2020 12:00 AM

Having lost two family members in less than six months recently, (my mother and oldest brother) naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about death.

I was raised in the Catholic faith and taught to believe in life after death — heaven, hell, purgatory — a kind of wayside on the way to heaven — and a curious afterlife location known as limbo where those who had not been forgiven of original sin, most specifically unbaptized infants, went. (My cursory research shows the Church, fortunately, has dropped this theological hypothesis entirely.)

I was taught to believe, and like to think, my family members are enjoying a reunion in heaven with loved ones already there, and yet, of course, no one really, really knows for sure. That’s sort of the main thing about death — once you experience it, you can’t share it with anybody. Forgive me, but as Daffy Duck once said after his great magic trick, “I know. I know. But I can only do it once.”

So, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the concept, and I’ve been cultivating a concept of what I would want for myself at that inevitable moment:

From a bird’s eye view, or, why not a paraglider, when my time comes I’d like to be able to witness once again the greatest joys in my beautiful life, heart and soul.

I’d also want to experience again my life’s most sorrowful moments from that paragliding view. Experiencing them again would deepen my empathy — both for my own self and for others — and deepen my compassion for the rare and wonderful challenge of being human.

I’d want to witness my children’s childhoods again, their happiness, unconditional love and my motherhood in all its unique moments — both the magnificent and the miserable.

And, just for fun, I’d want to relive parts of my own Midwestern childhood — summer days when play lasted from breakfast ‘til sundown, when we “cruised the hood” on our Schwinns, bicycle rodeoed in the street, played softball, cooled down at the community pool, ran barefoot in our backyards, braided clover chains and caught fireflies at dusk. At the time I never thought being a kid was anything special — now I know better.

I’d be willing to witness the moment of my last breath on earth, with family by my side hopefully, and find treasure in both their love and grief. I’d want them to know this: It is exactly the way it should and must be. And I’d leave my loved ones with all my love to carry them through their joys, their sorrows, their failures and their triumphs.

This final adventure, I think, would make for “a good day to die.”

Yeah, I think that would do it for me — my best afterlife, my heaven — a chance to see the whole circle of my life — and death — and then ease down to earth with the sun setting spectacularly one last time around me.

Community and Entertainment editor Carol Marino may be reached at 406-758-4440 or