Actually, I have no idea what will happen to us after we die and neither do you. Like most, I never spent too much time pondering this unsolved mystery for the living when I was younger, but now that I’m inching closer to my mortality — it’s basically all I think about.
Especially now that my parents are much older and rapidly losing relatives and friends in their age range. We recently just got another phone call that bore the news of another departed soul, which as usual was a total shock since we weren’t privy to the behind-the-scenes chaos that led to the announcement.
I spent the rest of that morning in deep conversation with my mother as we exchanged theories about life after death.
Both my parents are quite religious, even though my father found his epiphany later in life, which is a testament to the vulnerability we embrace when our physical prowess begins to wane beyond repair. There’s nothing more humbling than accommodating the systematic breakdown of all the connectors that once allowed you to be effortlessly unstoppable.
Even at my age — I’ve begun to bear the consequences of wear and tear as my knees swell up with pain and my eyesight signals more trouble on the way.
My father can’t get out of his armchair without wincing and my mother’s back is benefitting from the nightly massages I give her — although her achy joints can rudely hijack hours of good sleep.
These are all indicators of why we weren’t meant to live forever, which isn’t a bad thing when you think about it practically. We have to die in order to make room for the lives that are entering this already over-crowded globe.
For my mother — the thought of not being here one day is a terrifying one for obvious reasons. If you’re lucky enough to get past the age of sixty — that means you’ve been blessed with a relatively long ride — and it’s hard to fathom being abruptly removed from a disposition that you’ve grown accustomed to — with no solace of where you’ll end up.
Well, my parents are convinced that they will head straight to heaven where all the suffering on earth will be replaced with nothing but peace and eternal happiness.
I wish I could buy into the sensibilities of those that are blissfully armed with the language of their faith. Unfortunately, I’m not very keen on the notion that there is a paradise waiting to receive my soul after I take my last breath. And I also don’t accept the premise of heaven and hell and how it factors into the way we perform prior to our demise.
The human condition is a complex machine and as easy as it is to accept the cut and dried version — I’ve been through enough shit to reject such callous judgment. Nobody is perfect so therefore — heaven would definitely have to wait a mighty long time for applicable candidates. And hell is pretty much where we are right now — and I challenge anyone to refute that.
So, we’re basically right where we started — and this back and forth can be infuriating especially for people like my mother who can’t handle the mere possibility that death may not end up being a one-way ticket to the kingdom of heaven — where you’re rewarded for successfully passing the exam of life.
At the end of the day — it may be best to spend little time worrying about what happens in the afterlife because we will never know until we’re forced to find out.
For me, it’s the act of dying that frightens me. Even the most peaceful scenario— surrounded by family and friends — isn’t so peaceful because the process itself is still commandingly unnerving.
There’s also the unquestionable logic behind our impending journey that can’t be forsaken even though the devastating ways in which we’re taken can cruelly haunt those left behind. That’s no fun — and this is probably why we fear death more than we should. Nobody wants to exit the earth through an act of violence or after suffering the debilitating effects of a terminal disease, but we can’t shield ourselves or loved ones from those options.
What we can do is make the most of the time we have left by cherishing what a precious gift it is to be here — despite the fuckery that surrounds us daily.
We know without a doubt that the day is coming when we will be referred to in the past tense — and when you really let that sink in — it rejuvenates your spirit and almost resets your appreciation for something we all take for granted.
At the end of our conversation — my mother and I agreed that regardless of our personalized visions of where we end up when the lights are out — we can’t honestly attest that even if we did know for sure — it would make death less cumbersome to absorb.
But after she walked away to switch the station to classical music, I concluded that maybe I do have a clue what will happen to us after we die.
I promise to tell you after you’re dead.