When my little sister, Libby, died last year I wished I still believed in Heaven. I grew up believing, it sounded good. I thought there’d be parks, blue sky forever and ice cream vans you didn’t need money for. But I can’t believe that there is a place where all the dead people go and live happily ever after. I can’t believe in God anymore. Sometimes it saddens me to say it, but the pain is around causing others pain. My mum and Dad, primarily.
Just because a person doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t mean that the person thinks people who believe in God have got something wrong with them. I’m not looking to ‘save’ anyone and I don’t need saving.
Belief is what you make of it.
Atheists get accused of having no ‘moral compass’, that without religion to guide them, atheists are incapable of good. It’s insulting to everyone, believer and non-believer alike, to think that the reason people ‘do the right thing’ is because God may be looking.
I’m pretty sure that my mother and father, decent, intelligent, reasonable people would be as legit as they are today, with or without they’re belief in God.
Back to Heaven.
People cope with the death of a loved one in different ways. in regard to my sister, I ride my bike, listen to or avoid certain music (anything by Madonna), and cry a little each day. I don’t have the idea of Heaven anymore, so I think about when she was here and enjoy that. My parents, whose belief in God seems to be stronger the older they get, do have the idea of Heaven, for them, it isn’t over. They believe they will meet Libby again. I can see the comfort they get from that. I’d love to meet her again. The thing is she is still with me; in dreams, and memory, in some of her possessions, for instance her roughed up Doc Martens boots which I meant to be sharing with Erin, my other sister. In photos, in stories, in the hilarious letters she wrote and in the text messages still in my phone and in the relationships she had with other people.
It occurs to me that it was Heaven when she was here. The connection we had, the in-jokes, the fights we had growing up – she could run fast my little sister and she had sharp fingernails, all I had was getting it over with and hoping for peace. We had a bit of a childhood gone wrong, but we had understanding when we were old enough to talk about it. We held hands often and we always said I love you.
What if Heaven is today?
When I kiss Karate Boy goodnight and he won’t let me go, because ‘just another kiss Mummy,’ couldn’t that be Heaven? It’s pretty good. When I hold Stephen King Junior’s hand and walk the stairs thinking about how bumpy we were in the beginning and where we are today, how I love him and know it – well, that’s Heaven. Big H on his cello, that sound, rich and mellow, tells me he is going great, that’s Heaven. Relating to people, my husband, family, friends, co-workers, being open to possibility, asking questions, being there, in person, on the phone, online, on Facebook; Heaven. At work there is this guy who orders his coffee, large latte with one sugar then when I hand to him, always checks, ‘it’s sugared?’ He’s irritating, I know how to do my job, but we’re relating. I reckon relationships, how we treat each other, what we can give and get back, is what we’re here for.
I can’t believe in a Heaven in the sky. I’m not going to behave myself extra so I get there, besides it’d be congested and I don’t like crowds. I’m not going to waste time worrying about an afterlife. This is the life.
Heaven is here. We’re standing in it.