Silence, a sensual state that is very rare for me to achieve. Now that the grandchildren are always here, the usual cycle of a kip then a cup of tea is ruined. “What happens if I have an accident and you’re not there to call 999?” Or “You could spill the tea on the kids” are the usual groans that Roseanna, my 34 year old daughter, pulls out of the bag every time I complain to her.
Can’t blame her, though, seeing as her husband died recently in a car crash. Since that awful day, when he decided to drive whilst drunk and left her alone with three kids and no money, she’s doing everything she can to ensure that none of her loved one’s ever gets hurt again.
So now I lay here, having finally escaped to my bedroom and locked the door. I’m preparing myself for the blissful journey to the land of sleep. Closing my eyes, I feel an odd sense of total peace over my body; as if a good thing will soon come to an end. All I can concentrate on is the sense of understanding in my simple world and my breathing.
But that is in no way similar to what happened next. I woke up as if arising from the dead. My initial thought was that I had woken up in a hospital due to the total and blinding white light; but that assumption changed very quickly when I lifted my body. The feeling of total weightlessness, no pain from arthritis, no glasses yet perfect vision was extremely contradictory to how I felt before I went to sleep. As I lift my body I don’t understand why I don’t feel any pain. Surely the hospital can’t be that good, can it?! Once I have stretched out my once achy body, I see more totally white walls and ceilings, but the floor is different. That is because there isn’t a floor! All it is clouds oddly enough (but everything is odd in this weird place).
I look around, still half expectant to see Roseanna perched on a chair next to my bed with a worried expression that changes to relief once she has seen that I’ve aroused as well as the kids looking bored out of their heads because it’s “only another boring trip to see Granddad”; not that I’ve told Roseanna that I have heard what the kids say.
Anyway, I decide to take a walk to at least attempt to familiarise myself with this place. My legs feel like the wings of an eagle; strong and proud enough to suspend my body, yet as light and free as a feather. Oddly, I see a few faces that I recognise; most of them only from the T.V.! Martin Luther King, Steven Gately and Chris Tomlin as well as a few other faces that I would never have dreamed in a million years that I could be close enough to touch. Or is it my mind being wishful?
I didn’t have a clue until someone tapped me on the shoulder, who I instantly recognised, but in a different way to the last time I saw them. Their perfectly slender figure with a smile that bore teeth as white as he would be later in his life would look odd on any other body but his. Once I saw his ideally toned brown skin it was impossible to mistake who it was: Michael Jackson.
It seemed extremely strange to me that I was standing forehead to nose with him as I was convinced he was dead, or was that just a rumour to put the limelight off of him? Deciding that even if I woke up to discover that unfortunately it was just a dream, it would be a dream worth remembering.
So I boldly cleared my throat, a drought in the shape of a part of the body, and simply said “Hi”. Replying slowly, his voice as smooth as textured velvet, he replied the same “Hi” as I offered. Gaining confidence, as well as fear of not knowing where I was, I decided to ask “Where are we?” He replied, his voice slightly more gruff now, but only ever so slightly, “Heaven”.
At first I had to suppress a laugh, but after composing myself, I realised he was speaking the truth. Although it was different in many ways to what I imagined heaven to be like, it was also very similar. There was no negative auras around, no violence, but just genuinely happy people who’s smiles spread from cheek to cheek. We went on to talk about how we think our life panned out; obviously we both had led very different lives. We also discussed about the things we are glad we did in lives, in addition to things we regret that we did. Peculiarly enough he had lots of questions about my life, as I did for him, and we actually had lots of things in common: we both enjoy (or enjoyed) music, we both disagree with how humans treat the planet, we both have children, and lots of other things. I think we sat on the fluffy clouds for hours.
Although we had eternity to discuss all these things, we both shared an undiscussed desire to get all of our questions out within the time we had there. But there was a question that burned within me that would eat me unless I asked it soon. Without thinking, it ruptured out of me like a volcano erupting and I said “Why are you in heaven after all of the bad things you did?”
In a split second I was being carried by two burly men through a room where I saw even more of my heroes: Slash, Kevin Max, Toby Mac, but I didn’t stop in that room. Before I could make out what was happening I was dropped at a door, where a strange looking bearded man was casually leaning against a wall. Unlike the others (except the men who carried me) he was not smiling. Within a blink his expression had changed and he angrily started shouting at me “Who are you to judge people?” constantly.
But it was a rhetorical question because before I could answer I was thrown down stairs where others seemed to be coming up on a conveyer belt next to me. And that was the last memory I had before the total, everlasting blackness.
Ryan Lane 2010