Surely there is now a great chasm between us now…death. It is a river I can’t cross yet, and it is full of uncertainty- for every living person, no matter how much faith they profess- it remains just that- uncertain, unknown.
So I feel that gulf- that divide, but I also still feel a closeness. In the beginning days, I felt watched by you…at night I’d feel uncomfortable as I went into the dark kitchen while Audrey was sleeping- and I’d say quietly into the dark before I got my glass of water- “Dan? Are you there?”
I mentioned that feeling of being watched to the grief counselor the other day- she is a counselor at a large, very conservative church- a much more heady, intellectually-inclined denomination than some Dan and I had attended- but even she told me quite scientifically that she had read and believed it quite possible for the spirit to linger after death for a bit. I’m not sure what that means, but there was the presence, and then the hot whisper, and there have been other small things now as well.
It’s hard to banish from my head all of the things that the media have put in there- and have become a part of my thinking on an unconscious level- movies or shows about ghosts and the supernatural- that most likely are not accurate. I would like to rid my mind of them completely so I can experience this as it really is, but it’s difficult.
Since you died, I started to dig deep into some theological questions- could you see me once you were gone? One woman tells me that would negate the definition of heaven- a place with no sorrow because how you could you see me and Audrey going through this and not feel great sorrow- not shed tears? But another woman asked how could you be in heaven and not have thoughts of us? For that would not be heaven either. If it was it would mean your memory was erased, and you were nothing more than a brainwashed figure- not the real Dan- alive. And then also- what would that say about this life and the relationships and things done here? That they mean nothing and it’s all pointless? No, I don’t believe that, and I believe that you would have to know us and love us still as the “real” Dan in that interim place we call heaven.
So, I reconciled it all by believing that the reality that you know now, the perspective that we can not even fathom, in a place apart from space and time- would allow you to see us without weeping. I don’t think I believe you are here all the time just watching us. But I do believe at certain moments that you are. I feel you. I look around. You are near. This morning I felt you wrap your arms around me as I listened to your cello play on a recording. I believe that if you are apart from space and time, you can see us now because you can also see us being reunited with you in heaven at the same time. Where I see a possible long life of many years that I will have to wait, you are able to see all of this simultaneously living in a place where time is no longer linear. This comforts me the most.
Another widower I speak with who lost his wife and two children at the same time, tells me a close friend had a vision of his wife with Jesus looking down on him and asking, “Will he be OK?” Perhaps that is also likely- that Dan would have the assurance and presence of God to prevent him from being overwhelmed if he does see us.
But still- whether he does or not, there is surely a great chasm between us. And when I think about the way to get across- the only thing I can come up with is Christ. I don’t believe any other religion offers the hope he does. This is exactly what he said he came to do. I have studied him, professed faith in him for many years, and yet this is the first time, I want to truly know Him- because this is the first time that death- is real to me- truly real. And as far as I know, he is the only human to ever live that beat death- that rose from the dead by his own power and promised a similar fate for those who will believe in him. Historically, no one has been able to disprove this in all these years- and many, many have been willing to suffer horrible deaths for it because they believed it, especially those who claimed to have actually seen it.
This death, this separation is so utterly unnatural feeling- the Bible says it’s because God has set eternity in our hearts. I don’t understand why the whole story had to be the way it is- a beautiful creation spoken into being by words- beautiful words- a wretched fall and a promised land, and then a redeemer to fix all of that. i don’t claim to get any of it. But you know what- once the illusion is gone- and you see death- and therefore life- as it really is- it is definitely worth looking into- it is wise, not foolish- to want to investigate this grand story a little bit further.