Thursday, January 27, 2011

Death: does membership have its benefits?

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Editorial section

I feel a bit morbid writing about death again so soon after my first column of the year told the story of my aunt's funeral and the sad coincidence of her brother-in-law dying in the church only minutes before her funeral was to start.

Since my aunt died on Dec. 28, however, I seem to be bombarded with death - either of people I knew at one time or people close to friends of mine. There's my aunt Marie followed by her brother-in-law Lionel. Then a friend's close aunt Marie-Anne died on the same day as Lionel. That brought the toll between Dec. 28 and 31 to three.

Since then, another two have passed away. Florence, a former neighbour from my childhood, and Hervé, the father of a good friend of mine. To be truthful, none of these passings seem to have been completely unexpected. From what I knew, most had suffered from deteriorating health over the years.

All five were of my parents' generation, which seems to be dwindling - heck, lately it's been in a downright freefall of death. We all have to go some time, but gee, you could pace yourselves a bit, huh? You don't all have to walk toward the light at once. Maybe there was a two-for-one sale on halos?

I've never been particularly scared to die, although I'm not exactly sticking my finger in any live electrical sockets to tempt fate. I think we all go to heaven - at least eventually. Perhaps there's a sort of limbo or holding pattern our souls can enter until we realize that some of the free will we expressed while we were in human form could have been used a bit better. Some, of course, likely stick around in the holding pattern longer than others.

I hope my afterlife beliefs turn out to be true. I like to think that it's something similar to here, but everyone gets along, there's no illness, sadness or crime . . . and that time means nothing. No one gets old. There's no pollution, either.

And I hope there's more to do than just float around singing in choirs of angels. I mean, that sounds fun and all, but at some point even souls must need a bit of variety. I mean, we need to brush our angel wings, shine our halos and pop in to scare the living daylights out of people we don't like back here on Earth.

Have a bully that annoyed you during high school? Just because you're dead and he's now old doesn't mean you can't get a bit of revenge. Just drop in on him at the nursing home and kick his walker out from under him. No one can see you, so they'll just blame the fall on unsteadiness. While you chuckle invisibly in the corner - your halo shaking with each giggle - he's wondering what happened.

"Yeah buddy," you think to your dead self, "now you know how it feels to get sucker punched."

But seriously, I don't think we remain petty like that when we're dead. Personally, I plan on going to a few Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf concerts up there in Heaven. I hope when I get to Heaven that the music isn't too loud. In movies, the scenes where people go to Heaven are accompanied by beautiful angelic music, but it's so loud that my glasses shattered. Hopefully we all get headphones and can turn it down a notch.

And I'm sure I'll be kept busy trying to decide which pair of angel wings to wear for my weekly update meeting with Jesus. It would be difficult to miss those meetings, let me tell you. You can't call in sick because there's no illness in Heaven. And since there's no lying in Heaven, you can't even pretend that something else came up.

But really, who'd want to pass up a meeting with Jesus? I certainly wouldn't. I just hope he doesn't expect me to recite Bible passages, though. I've never been good at that. I'll just blurt out a "Thou shalt not kill" periodically and hope for the best.

See, I'm not even dead yet and already I'm freaking out about my weekly update meetings with Jesus - and I don't even know if they actually happen.

Oh, I'm confident they do take place, though. I mean, surely we can't all be going to church for nothing. I haven't been very good at making it to mass lately, so I hope he (Jesus) doesn't have his church attendance book with him.

Mine would be pretty sparse, unfortunately. Then again, I hope it all means something - going to church, I mean. I'd hate to get to Heaven and then find out it was all optional.

Can you imagine St. Peter breaking the news at the Pearly Gates that church-going was optional and isn't considered valid brownie points for entering into the eternal life? If that's the case, I know good ol' St. Pete's probably still got the slap marks on his face from my two grandmothers. I think they only missed church when they were in the middle of childbirth... and then again I'm not so sure they didn't go anyway.

From what I believe, there's no need to eat in Heaven. That's an earthly requirement only. But, since I can only believe that no one gains weight in heaven,

I hope we get to eat what we want if we so choose. Just give me a bottomless bucket of liquorice allsorts and I'll be fine. Carbs don't exist in Heaven, right?

Whatever happens when we die, there's one thing I realize I get older: the welcoming committee is getting bigger and bigger every day. Everyone, it seems, wants to live to a ripe old age, but I think that could be a bit overrated. When all your family and friends are dead, it can get pretty lonely... but that's what they invented television and pets for, I guess.

No comments: