Dad, what was it like? What was it like to die? When you passed in the middle of the night, four years ago today, as the rest of us had fallen asleep; did your soul stay for a bit? Did you wait for us to go to sleep? Did you choose to pass quietly, after we all gave you our consent the night before; and we said our goodbyes, and gave you kisses as you lay barely alive before we all went to bed at midnight in exhaustion?
Was that intentional, that you took your last breath once we were all tucked away and asleep? And as you breathed your last breath, did you hear a voice softly call you by name? Was is muffled at first and as they continued to call you by name did the sound of their voice become clear? And as you let out your last breath in the stillness of the night, was someone there to greet you; like an Angel or perhaps someone you once knew that went before you? What was it like to leave your body? Did you open your eyes anew? And the pain that plagued your body, I imagine it was gone; but could you feel your spirit, like I can sense the presence of my body? Did you sit up from your body, or maybe levitate out of yourself?
Yet again I wonder, did you linger and wait till we found you pale and cold at 3:55 that morning, on September 3rd 2013? When I approached your death bed, before falling to my knees in screaming tears, were you there beside me with your old friend who went before you, or that Angel companion? When all I could do for two hours before they came to take your body was hold your lifeless hand; were you holding me in your soulful embrace? And as they wheeled you out of the house and into the hearse and I began to keel over in screaming sorrow, did you and the Angel paint that beautiful sunrise as comfort to us, as a sign of your love for us?
Hours later as I stood in that small room later that morning; that room in the mortuary; that room they laid you in; I stood as close to you as I could, and I studied and stroked your face as I began talking to you in my head; and I began screaming to you in my head: “Dad, don’t make me leave you! Dad, don’t go; Dad, please don’t go! Dad don’t leave me! Dad, PLEASE don’t leave me! DAD…no…please don't go!!!” Could you and the Angel hear me in my own head? Did you reply? Did you hold me in the moment? Did my screaming thoughts bring you to tears, like they brought me to tears? But you can’t cry when you’re dead – can you? So how did you reply?
As we made call after all; as we finalized the details of your final services; as family and friends began flooding in; as I cried over each word I wrote for your eulogy, were you there? Was your hand on my shoulder? Did you say words I couldn’t hear? Did you wait before crossing over or going to the light? Again, did your soul linger?
And once you were finally ready to go, what was that like when you left this world and into the next? Did you tell the Angel you were ready, or did the Angel tell you it was time to go? Did the Angel take you by the hand and you two walked towards a brilliant light; a glowing bright and brilliant light? Did you look back at us with loving words as you walked towards Grace? Were you scared or nervous as you walked toward Everlasting Grace? As you walked closer to the light, did the sounds of this world begin to muffle or drown out; and what was it replaced with? Was it replaced with silence; like a vacuum of silence; or perhaps not? And as you walked through this tunnel and closer to the light, did the view of this world begin to fade? And once the sights and sounds of this world faded out, and that vacuum of silence became more, I imagine you being spun and flipped through a strong wave current through this vacuum of silence before viewing glimpses of your life; viewing yourself and each significant moment from an outsiders perspective, before viewing your life in an extreme fast forward of sights and sounds; while again, viewing some pivotal moments through eyes anew.
Did you see moments from when you were a boy back in Kansas and Missouri? Did moments from Vietnam and serving in the Air-force during the war flashback too? Perhaps the years in college and in Chicago came flashing back; did you remember peoples’ names? I can imagine the day you met mom came up; and maybe even the day you two said “I do.” And as you viewed your life in these extreme flashbacks, through this tunneled fast moving current, did the ugly human moments come up along with the moments of laughter and beauty? Did the moment you became a father for the first time show when Katie was born? Or the moments Joey was an infant and almost died; did those moments appear as well? The summers you and mom took us four kids camping and you taught us about the stars over campfire – did those moments come up too? In this vacuum and as the cinema of your life played, did moments of me come up? Like the time I moved upstate for college – did you feel that same feeling when I flew the coop? Of perhaps you viewed a simple moment between us from an early morning as we sipped our coffee on the front porch; as everyone else still lay asleep? After all, you and I both were the early birds in the family? As I imagine you viewing the days of your life through those eyes anew and in the sensation of this vacuumed current, I imagine sounds of laughter and soft music playing as the moments from your life’s cinema began to fade and that light became so bright all you could do was close your souls eyes before the rush of the vacuum current stopped and you found yourself suddenly and without reason on an empty path – like the Yellow Brick Road in “The Wizard of Oz,” but perhaps just cobble stone instead; and that cobble stoned path was surrounded by wide open green rolling pastures you might find in Ireland and a beautiful blue sky to top it off. Or maybe you found yourself on a tropical beach, as the sounds of waves crashing filled your senses. As you and the Angel walked the path (or the beach), I envision you asked if you were getting close. As the Angel smiled at you, you were told to just look ahead; and as you did I imagine maybe you saw the Pearly gates, but actually, I imagine the gates to Heaven was more of a beautiful carved wooden gate twinkling in fire flies. And as you approached the gate, I like to think that perhaps Saint Peter was there to greet you and welcome you, and tell you how good you’re looking. As you pass through the wooden (or pearly) gates you take stock of yourself for the first time, as you realize the form your spirit is in. You’re in the best physical form of yourself you were at in your lifetime – I’ll take a guess and say it was when you were 34; the age you married mom. As the sound of laughter continues, and soft music continues, I suspect your eyes saw a garden beyond the gates.
This garden is none like you have ever seen before. In this garden, the trees were so stout, as the branches hung with beautiful green and flowered vines; every flower you had ever seen and more surrounded you with such vibrant color, and every color of God’s beautiful rainbow. And as you looked further into the gates of Heaven you caught the glimpse of creatures of the sea in the air, far off in the distance. And as you looked through the distance, an array of magnificent mountains and waterfalls framed the background as souls of people (so many souls of people) flew through the distance of waterfalls and rainbows, and the creatures of the sea as well just floated through the soft beautiful glow of God’s Everlasting light!
As you strolled through the tall grasses in the gates entry way, did you walk side by side with the Angel, or had the Angel departed (perhaps to guide another soul to Heavens gates)? Who did you meet first in Heaven? Did you encounter your father – without the bottle? Rather did you first meet your mother instead; striped of her anger and rage? Was she the soft kind soul she once was; the mother she would have wanted to be for you, but couldn’t be? Did forgiveness flood your soul as you reached for each other in embrace? And who else did you meet again but through your eyes anew? Surely a familiar face took your spirit’s hand as you both took flight and levitated to God’s thrown room.
What is God’s kingdom and thrown like? As you approached His thrown did He have a face, or is He this inconceivable being that is merely impossible to describe – a sight to see and not tell? Was His thrown made of clouds, or marble; maybe forest green ivy? The inside of his throne room must have been jaw dropping! Were there pillars as high as the eye could see of stone and flowers? Did you walk on water to God’s throne or perhaps hills of smooth sand? Was a choir of Angels there singing the most beautiful notes you had ever heard, as their voices were paired with Heavenly harps and flutes and trumpets? Were children who hadn’t even had a chance to live (or barely had a chance to live) there to welcome you with childlike excitement, to bring you to the feet of Jesus? As you approached the feet of Jesus, did you catch sight of his Mother, the queen of Heaven and Earth? How beautiful is Mary? How stunning is her timeless face? Does she radiate with Grace and love and loveliness? And as the lost children walked, skipped and jumped alongside you, and as you neared the scared feet of Jesus, did your scares show too as you fell to your knees at His feet? When you spoke to God, face to face, for the first time, were you overwhelmed with joyful tears, or did you two simply embrace in smiles? Did you ask all the questions you had for him? And did you get your answers? Did he have a cup of coffee ready for you; just how you like it - black, no cream or sugar? And did you enjoy a cup of joe with God?
As you strolled and flew through Heaven, were there God’s animals there too – maybe Comet, Sugarbear and Lexi (our old dogs that passed away)? Did they tackle you with glee and loving licks? Possibly, did some fascinating jungle animals come and play with you? A monkey for example, did a monkey jump on your shoulders and point you to a Heavenly pond surrounded with other souls? Or rather, instead of a monkey, did a magnificent pearly white haired horse nudge you to this pond surrounded by other souls? And as you looked puzzled at the pond, glistening in God’s radiant light and vibrant rainbow, did this animal tap the surface; and in creating that Heavenly ripple, was a portal to which you could view us revealed to you? And how often do you frequent that pond to check in on us? Or do you simple know how we’re doing by some other supernatural power? And when you’ve paid me a visit when I’m fast asleep; how does the work? Do you leave the gates of Heaven, back through the tunnel and just lay your hand on my forehead in my room? Or do you simply (and somehow – I don’t know how) bring my mind and thoughts to you (not my soul, but my consciousness) to Heaven and speak to me that way? And when I've been in distress (either physically, or mentally or emotionally) does your soul know? Can you view my life in the way God does - where he already knows the plans of my life before I even do? For Heaven is separate from time - right?
While I miss you every day, I know you are well, and I know you take care of me - even of it's in different form. All the same I miss you dad! But partially I'm selfish; I am selfish because I want you back here with me and mom, and Joey, and Katie and Gabby. I'll be the first to admit I should be more happy for you; for you have left to go home - where all our hearts can finally feel satisfied. And you are free from pain, human constraints, and you're on this grand great trip - the last adventure, the Everlasting adventure! All the same, I wanted you with me longer - again, I wanted you with me longer - I am selfish in that regard. I'm sorry dad, I can't help it. Yet God's plan for you after your life was more, and perhaps He needed you more with Him; and I like to think His will is being done with you there in Heaven. So, I take comfort knowing you are out of pain and free from your demands, and still very present with me and in me. Dad, I know you know this, but I want to tell you I love you so dearly, and miss you terribly, yet I know you are still with me, even now as I finish this entry!