Postscript from the grave
A number of people close to me passed away in recent years — a law school dean, a high court justice, a bar topnotcher, an actor, a World Bank economist, my father and father-in-law, a favorite aunt.
All of them were successful in their own lives and careers. Considering their wisdom and successful lives while they were on earth, I occasionally wonder where they are now, and whether their successful lives brought them to where they had wished or dreamt to be after their death.
But in spite of my own closeness to them, and even with the understanding with some of them that when they go, they would come back somehow to tell me how it is out there, no one has done so yet.
As a devout Catholic, I have so much faith and belief in life after death, but I cannot fathom or even imagine the quality of the second life that heaven promises. My undergraduate philosophy background was not of any help and further complicated my thinking, as the visuals of heaven having gardens and music do not seem to conform to an eternal state that is presumably purely spiritual or immaterial.
Thoughts of the afterlife come into my mind every time I listen to the song by Lighthouse Family, “Lost in Space.” I truly shiver at the thought of being lost in space when I go, as all of us will.
I try to lighten up the thought of going by romanticizing it with the song of Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, “Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye),” which I have chosen to be my funeral song. I also temper my fear of being lost in space as I traverse through the other world by associating it with my favorite song, “Find Me” by David Gates, which I would want to tell my wife, who I dearly love, in the event that I go first.
Different religions and philosophies describe the afterlife in many ways, but almost all of them believe in one thing — that there is truly life after death. As to how and where it will be is where religions and philosophies differ.
Our Catholic credo professes the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting, but does not qualify whether our resurrected bodies will be the same bodies with the qualities and defects we had in our lives on earth. Having resurrected material bodies would also require a bigger material world to accommodate all, and that certainly cannot be earth again.
The thought of losing one’s identity after death is dreadful, as it eliminates the idea of recognizing people we once loved during our first lifetime. Wala ba talagang forever?
Other religions believe in the oneness of the universe, where our individual beings would merge with the oneness of the Supreme Being. Others believe in reincarnation; I even reminded my son that should I go and be reincarnated, watch for the black bird humming at night as it would definitely be me, as I was just then inspired by our favorite song, “Blackbird (Singing in the Dead of Night),” by the Beatles.
My father, who recently died at age 100, used to watch the National Geographic channel during his last remaining years. The shows he watched perhaps gave him the idea that life after death might just be in another planet.
Life on earth can be so short, and so is the memory of people who have been close to us during our lifetime. The things we treasure such as trophies, certificates, photographs, medals, letters, pieces of jewelry and other mementos will soon lose their meaning, and most likely will be boxed or even trashed by the people we leave behind when we go. Good deeds will soon be forgotten. Our Belo-fied bodies will be pulverized and dissipate.
Considering the billions of people who have passed through earth and also the billions of planets in the universe, one may wonder what is one’s place and worth in the entire universe. As narrated in a song by Chicago: “When all the great galactic systems sigh to a frozen halt in space, do you think there will be some remnant of beauty of the human race?… Do you think a greater thinking thing will give a damn that man was here?”
In the meantime, especially as we age, let us make each day of our life on earth a taste of heaven. As the last line of Desiderata puts it: “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Strive to be happy.”
For all we know, this might be the only heaven we will ever know.
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Victor T. Reyes ([email protected] com) 68, is a former practicing lawyer, professor of law and legal consultant in some government agencies.
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