I’ve been having a difficult time writing recently- putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, more accurately) has just seemed impossible since my Dad died. I don’t know why, especially since he enjoyed my writing and always encouraged my active imagination right from when I was a little girl trying to write in the style of my heroine Enid Blyton. (Flying chairs and talking animals just really appealed to me when I was a kid). For the past few weeks I’ve heard his voice in my head, asking why my article wasn’t published AGAIN.
My writing cogs started turning again after an insightful conversation with a friend’s three year old daughter recently. I asked her if her goldfish was lonely- he just looked so sad swimming around that bowl all alone. She explained that his friend had died- he simply started coughing one day, and died. Floated belly-up to that great goldfish heaven in the sky. (Ok, she didn’t actually say that, but I thought it sounded poetic). So I asked her why she couldn’t get him another friend. This little girl looked at me like I was crazy and said ‘His friend died. He can’t have another one.’ Even at her age she understood that once someone goes, that is it. The finality in her little voice broke my heart.
Come to think of it- do fish go to heaven? Or do they sink to some watery abyss and swim around happily ever after at the bottom of the sea?
I’ve always had a fascination with the afterlife. It all started when I lost my puppy Bingo. I think I must have been about 6 years old. I was devastated when he died, and insisted that we have a funeral for him. Likewise the bird that flew into our living room window and broke its neck- I dragged my big sister to the teeny tiny graveside and even made her sing a hymn for the poor birdy’s soul.
In my 6 year-old mind, heaven was compartmentalized, neatly arranging the newly departed by Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. German Shepherds to the left, camels to the right, kind of thing. As children we were told ‘Uncle so-and-so has gone to heaven’ and I always used to think- but how? Is there a bus? A plane? Are they expecting you when you arrive? Is it like a hotel, with a reception area for check-in and room assignment? Do they have an angel at the entrance with a clipboard, ticking souls off as they float in? Can you order room service?
Of course being an adult now, I don’t quite think that way anymore. Not that I’m any the wiser. But I’m sure it’s not quite as elaborate as checking in to a swanky hotel.
My Dad was a Christian and believed in going to meet ‘The Man Up There’. Looking at the way he lived his life, and everything he did for us and the countless people he helped along the way, I have no doubt that he’s in the VIP section, relaxing with friends and family who went on before. And who knows? Maybe my puppy Bingo is sitting at his feet, wagging his little tail. Maybe.