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  • Writer's pictureJody Glynn Patrick

Imagine there's a heaven?

What is “heaven”?

Nothing quite moves us to want to believe in an afterlife like the death of our child (sibling, parents, beloved friend). We need to imagine a place for them to be that is still close by, even if it remains outside of our grasp. A good place to be. We want to find a little relief in the idea that they are in heaven (by whatever name we might think to call it).

The bestseller The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – “the story of a life and everything that came after” -- became a movie as well. The novel moved me. The author expressed my hope that my beloved son Daniel has an eternal soul and energy, and that he is a life force that continues on, parallel to me, even though his body was destroyed in a car accident.

Siebold explores the concept of heaven and constructs one for the main character, Susie, after Susie is murdered as a young adult. The parents did not discuss their complex feelings of loss in the book. Susie expressed them ever so much more eloquently than we can express them ourselves. She understood them, from her vantage point of watching  and seeing them in all of their complexity. She was invisibly present. She watched them stumble with god-like compassion. She intuitively understood their true feelings and thoughts. Through her narrative, she described about 100 of the thoughts, missgivings and missteps that I shared with both of her fictional parents in the aftermath of my son’s death.

I also am thrilled by the author’s concept of Heaven, which again jibes with my heart. She described my hopes for my son even better than I could have imagined them myself. She took away the murky water that has stood between me and my vision of heaven.

What is heaven? Since at least the 11th century, Wikipedia sources inform me, “it has typically also been used to refer to the plane of existence of an afterlife (often held to exist in another realm) in various religions and spirtual philosophies. Heaven is often described as the holiest possible place, accessible by people according to various standards of divinity, goodness, peity, faith or other virtues.”

Lots of words. Lots of judgement. Lots of theology.

Because my son is deceased, and my parents, grandparents, and brothers, I long to know what heaven could be. I long for it to be a spiritual plane in which we all would be in harmony with, and not separated from, God and the universe, with all the souls that contribute to the knowledge and experience of the greater whole. I want a Heaven that offers the most beautiful music, most beautific colors and sights. And, of course, eternal love and connectedness.

Two planes of existence?

I can’t change the dimension I live in to accommodate this other dimension that I feel around me. However, I take comfort in the idea that the two planes intersect because of the love I will forever feel for my family, regardless where they are. Like the main character of the book, who spent much of her energy trying to communicate with the still living, Daniel communicates with me and I “hear” him and I “see” him.

I bought a printer for my computer – a computer I’ve used for two years. The printer began running through a cycle at odd times, and then it occurred to me that it cycled most often when I was daydreaming, thinking about Daniel. The computer, more often than not, was turned off – though sometimes the computer was on. Regardless, the printer continued to have the print head move across the carriage one to three times, and sometimes more during each episode. It did not resemble a pre-programmed cycle, as it was always random, and always different. It does not do it every time I think of Daniel, nor on demand. But once a day, then a couple times the next day, then not at all, then again a few times in a day, it will cycle. The times change. The tone changes. My husband initially dismissed it as an internal glitch — until I bought another printer and that printer, too (different make and model) began doing the same thing when hooked up to the computer, regardless if the computer was on, regardless whether the printer was was the primary “default” printer or listed as an alternative or second computer.

Coincidence? No. We’ve documented experiences with Daniel after his death, witnessed by others and so obvious that they can’t be dismissed. He is with us on this plane, in another form of energy. Lovely Bones. If you haven’t read it yet, let me warn you that it will be extremely painful to get through, and yet exquisitely beautiful to experience. For me, it was a slice of heaven on earth.

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