Monday, October 19, 2015

Is Heaven for real?

Writing from the Atlanta airport, waiting for my connecting flight back to Milwaukee ...

Is Heaven for real?

I capitalized it, so I must believe it is. But it's a good question.

This isn't what I was going to write. After hearing someone too-young-to-be-drinking say on the airplane she was, "hungover as fuck," I thought it would be good for some meandering observations of life in an airport. But then perusing the rack of alluring paperbacks at one of the gift shops, I spied the novel, "90 Minutes in Heaven" (Now a major motion picture!).

I'm never sure if the proclamation of a book turning into a movie spurs more book sales or less. On one hand, you may say, "It's so good, they made it a movie! I must buy it and read it first!"

Or you could say, "Reading words is so tiresome. I'd rather go to a place and pay way too much for popcorn and a soda and have someone spoon feed me the information with dramatic music."

Considering I stopped at an airport sushi bar to pay way too much for a spicy tuna roll and way too much again for the Sam Adams Boston Lager to wash it down, I shan't judge.

Several books caught my eye before the tuna roll did. Can't help myself.

But this "Heaven" book is one I really need to read. Maybe it's for reassurance, or because I want to hear someone else's story to further prove my belief. I can tell you all day Heaven is real, and if you're an atheist, you won't believe me, and if you're agnostic, you might not believe me, and if you're a New England Patriots fan, you'll make some obnoxious comment about Tom Brady being God and all the proof you'll ever need.

Maybe an atheist would buy the book so they could scoff, while I buy it for other reasons.

Truth in advertising: I've always believed Heaven is real, because that's the way I was raised. That's normally how religion and religious beliefs work, I suppose.

Events in my life have always reinforced my faith, probably starting with the second-grade play where I played the part of the Old Miner. The entire school had a different part of American history to portray, since it was 1976 and the bicentennial. Our class had the Gold Rush. I had the lead, but couldn't remember the two paragraphs required of the part, and went to bed in tears because I needed to know those lines, and maybe I was just a bit too melodramatic as a second-grader. In my dream that night, I clearly remember an old-fashioned scroll unraveling with the entire second paragraph. I woke up and knew it by heart, but still not the first part. The next night, I got that. Not exactly the Dead Sea Scrolls, but worked for me.

God or wishful thinking, it worked.

It's not that I just want to believe. I need to believe.

Don't get me started on still missing Hobo, the best dog a boy could ever have, whose four paws haven't walked this Earth since 1986. I kissed him goodbye the day I left for Air Force basic training, Sept. 3, 1986, and promised I'd see him again. He came to me in my dreams every night of basic training. I didn't know my Mom took him to the vet a day after I left and had him put out of the misery from the cancer that ravaged his body.

So many other dogs will have to meet me in Heaven -- Sooty, Wuffie, Buddy, Angel and Lucky. And yes, even Wendy. She was the dog who was in the family before I was born, and who ended up with a streak of green, permanent marker on her back, thanks to one of my 4-year-old temper tantrums. She wasn't a very friendly dog, but then again, what old lady dog would like a 4-year-old who has no business with a green magic marker?

There are family members I'd love to see again, and ask questions I never got around to when they were alive. And, most importantly, I want to see my oldest son again. He was killed four years ago by a driver on a cellphone.

He's come to me in a few dreams since he died. They all have been so real and reassuring that he is OK. What I wouldn't give to have 90 minutes in Heaven with him. I'm sure Eric Clapton feels the same way about his 2-year-old son, Connor, who died so many years ago. Lord knows, like he sang, there are no more tears in Heaven.

Yeah, Heaven is real. I want to read the book but don't need to read the book today. For a man without faith, no explanation is possible, and to a man of faith, no explanation is necessary.

Devin, take care of Hobo, Sooty, Wuffie, Buddy, Angel and Lucky for me. And Wendy, too. Tell her I'm sorry about that green magic marker.

I'll see you all again some day. Until that day comes, I hope to see you in my dreams.