When I was a pastor and sat with people
who were actively dying, like Anna,
by her hospital bed, holding her hand,
sometimes they, or their children,
usually a little timidly, as if it was something
they should know and had forgotten,
would ask me, what is heaven really like?
Now, I don’t personally think
heaven is a place, but a condition of existence
but that’s not the time or place for metaphysics,
so I would tell them, I don’t know,
but I can imagine, because if what I imagine
isn’t true, then it’s not really heaven
and I wouldn’t want to be there;
and I would tell them, you can also imagine
because your heaven will not be the same
as mine, but they will have in common
that all the goodness of our lives
will be distilled into one continuous infinite joy:
everyone I have ever loved will be there
close by, even the ones with whom
it ended badly, or who died before
I could ever tell them I loved them;
I’ll get to now. My parents will be there,
arms open, and we won’t ever have another fight
and they won’t ever again irritate the holy fuck out of me.
My brother will be there reminding me
to joke them if they can’t take a fuck.
Every cat I’ve ever known will be rubbing against my legs
my Dittocat climbing my leg as a little kitten
Cringy the stray dog licking my hand,
all my lovers surrounding me in their arms,
somehow all at once.
I don’t see any reason that we would see God
any more than we do now and it doesn’t matter
whether there even is a God or not
if I have all my feline and human loves again:
my heart will have no limit to how big it can be.
I will cry freely every time I see someone I have missed,
it will be a continual rediscovery
of everyone who ever passed through my life
and love will go on and on without end.
I realized, as I was sitting there,
holding Anna’s hand, that sometime
while I had been talking, she had stopped breathing
a beautiful smile on her face,
I want us all to hold closely,
in easy times and in difficult ones,
whatever we think about a divine or not,
that there is always a point to love,
always a reason to be profligate with it;
the promise, independent of any doctrine
but rooted in our bones and flesh,
in the knowledge we have
that we don’t know exactly how we acquired,
is that no love is ever lost or wasted.