The Five Other People you Meet in Heaven
I went to Heaven the other day. Again.
I knew it. He was the guy I would have chosen to meet, if I had a choice. Are you kidding me? I wanted to say Nanoo Nanoo. Mork! Oh! Captain My Captain! There he was Robin Williams in the non-flesh.
I hugged him. I’m sorry I couldn’t help it. He needed a hug before he died, didn’t he? I couldn’t even say hi. “What happened to you?” I asked. “If you only knew how loved and adored and admired you are.” He didn’t let go of our hug right away. He smelled of lilacs and handed me three tiger lilies. I took them silently; he understood I was too moved for words.
‘Thank you.” He nodded his head the way he always did. “Remember that, you are loved, adored and admired. I’m using your words, you people so hung up on your words.” He chuckled to himself.
I was beginning to understand the cryptic nature of the way the dead communicated. He started laughing to himself a little louder and continued,“All I ever did was talk. Talk, talk, talk. I didn’t know I existed outside of this talk I could do. I could talk like Marlon Brando, I could talk funny, talk like a sage. I just didn’t know how to talk like Robin. I didn’t have my own voice. “
“What are you talking about, so much of your work was so original. I just don’t, don’t believe that,” I was actually arguing with a dead Robin Williams.
“Who was I, the funny guy, the deep guy, the creep? I couldn’t turn it off. I was always performing. I was always on. Do you know how exhausting that is?” I realized I wanted him to say something witty or profound. I was guilty of expecting that from him as well. “I can be myself, I found myself here.”
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am a being worthy of love.” He looked like he was going to cry
“Do you miss it? Being on all the time?’ I asked.
“Oh sure, I miss people laughing because of me, thinking because of me. I miss the praise. But I realized something; that I couldn’t base a life on the ego of what other people thought of me. They liked the show, not me. When I was just boring me, sitting around watching T.V. with my hands in my pants they wouldn’t praise me. I thought they wouldn’t love me.”
I would have sat next to silently and loved you,” I said in a soft voice.
“I know, that’s why you are here. To know you don’t always have to be on. Shut off sometimes: just be. You don’t always have to be interesting and brilliant.”
Was he alluding that I was brilliant? Wow, coming from him I was honored. He smiled at me and gave me a high five.
I high-fived Robin Williams in Heaven.
That will remain my claim to fame.
I looked away for a moment. I could see someone walking towards me in the distance. He was Black, he wore a striped shirt and jeans that were quite baggy. He looked lost. “Can I help you?” I asked like an idiot. Maybe he was another person roaming around here like me. As if I knew directions…
He smiled at me. “You don’t remember me do you?” I looked him up and down, he must have been about six feet tall. I didn’t have even the slightest clue who he was. “St. Lukes Hospital Psychiatric Ward.” I looked closer at him; no recognition was registering. “I was a patient there with you.”
Oh no, he was young. How did he end up here? “We talked one night,” he said and held his hands together, like he was praying. You said something to me I will never forget.”
“What, what did I say?” I didn’t want to ask.
“I told you I attempted suicide. Then you said, ’You attempted suicide? What do you mean you attempted? How hard is it anyways?’ That’s what you said.”
“OH NOOO, don’t tell me the rest of this story. I can’t know this. Did you, did you do something to yourself because of what I said?”
“Calm down it’s not all about you,” he said a famous line to me. A line one of my best friends says to me all the time. “I jumped off a building the day after I left the hospital. I had planned it all along.”
“Oh my god, I heard about that, I overheard one of the nurses talking about that!” I remembered that.
“So what words of great wisdom are you here to impart to me?” I asked and raised my eyebrows.
“Nothing, I just wanted to say hi,” he smiled at me in an almost sexy way. Did he have a crush on me? Did a dead guy like me? Makes sense, I can’t get any living human to love me.
“Hi,” I said and smiled back at him.
“Just remember people remember you.” And he was off.
A Hispanic man was right behind. Him I recognized. From where, though? “How do I know you?” I asked.
“You take cream and two sugars,” he said it with a very pronounced accent.
“Oh my God! You? The guy who made my coffee the first yearI lived in New York?”
“That’s me baby,” he said and laughed.
“You left that job, a new guy came in. He wasn’t as nice as you. Where did you go?” I asked.
“I died on 911.” There were tears in his eyes. The first person I had met in Heaven who seemed sad about dying.
I looked at him closely. He didn’t look dead. He looked strangely more alive than the others. “You lived in Battery Park and came all the way to the Upper West Side to serve coffee?” I asked.
“Yes, my cousin owned the café. I was an illegal alien.”
“Oh.” I didn’t mention to him the political ruckus that was going on, on Earth, about illegal immigrants.
“A lot of us illegals died that day.” He shook his head. “No one ever knew we lived. They don’t say our names when they recite the names of everyone who died that day. They don’t know our names.” I realized I didn’t know his name.
“What’s your name?” I asked hesitantly.
“Pablo.” He looked at me closely. “In my life, we were only partially allowed to exist.” I looked at him sympathetically. He continued, “I never really lived in America, I was always hiding. I want to tell you to stop hiding, no one is chasing after you. You are not a criminal just because you have a mental illness. You are not invisible. You matter.”
It was true, I always thought that I did something wrong by being sick and the police would arrest me one day and put me in a psych ward for the rest of my life. My worst fear. And I did feel invisible…a lot.
“You have to live, really live. Nothing is stopping you from living. No one is stopping you from seizing the day, no one but you.”
“Carpe Diem?” I asked.
I looked over and he disappeared. I looked over in some mist and there she was, in all her beautiful glory. She was a queen, always a queen. Is that you, “Mrs. McPike.?” My fourth-grade teacher. A flamboyant, outspoken, black woman filled with charisma. She had once told me that I had beauty of the face and beauty of the mind. That was the greatest compliment anyone had ever given me up to that point in my life.
“Yes dear,” she said with that knowing smile.
She would put music on while we did math. She would quote Nietzsche on a regular basis and ask us to write about his quotes. We were nine years old, but we got it somehow. She didn’t underestimate kids. She didn’t think kids were kids. She was the first person to take me aside and discovered that I had a talent for writing. She would take me aside and work with me on my poems and my little stream of consciousness prose.
She wore different wigs everyday. She wore fur coats, apparently, her husband and her were very wealthy and she didn’t need to work. She did it out of love.
“Mrs. McPike? Really is that you?”
“We don’t have much time dear…” She said looking around suspiciously. “You don’t have much time!”
“Am I going to die soon too?” I asked.
“You will die in old age,” she smiled. “But that’s not enough time.” She looked nervous.
“Time for what?”
“You know when you listen to the clock, and you hear the sound that goes tick tock, If I had any money I’d bet you a dime, It’s the doing of the grand conductor of time.”
“I wrote that when I was nine in your class,” I whispered.
“There is so much more work to do. You have to do the work. You have to know. They sent you here so you can do your work knowingly.” She looked nervous and talked fast.
“What do I know?”
“You know about all this!” She turned around and all of a sudden I saw it. The most beautiful sunset, but it wasn’t a sunset, it was the most beautiful scene over something like a waterfall that I had ever seen in my entire life.
Music started to play. It wasn’t Nirvana this time. It was just instrumental however the sounds went through my soul. I have never heard such beauty. I would use the word immaculate when describing the entire scene.
Surprisingly Heaven kind of looks like Heaven. Who knew?
“Can I take pictures?” I looked for my phone. Where was my phone?
“With your mind, take pictures,” she said.
“Can I take notes? What do you want me to say or do? Why should I do anything?”
“Those whom to much is given, much is expected. We expect you to be one of our messengers.”
“Um, I don’t think so, I don’t want to do anything. I just want to live a quiet peaceful life…I want to be left alone. People will tell me I’m a liar if I tell them I’ve been here. They will hate me.”
“Yes, they will call you a liar, they will want to kill you, they might kill you. If they do, you will end up right back here. I thought you liked it here.”
“I’m getting a little discombobulated. I’m confused. I think I want to go home now.” My head was spinning.
“Before you go, remember you must tell them about the ending. The spoiler alert. The human condition cannot end badly. Each human’s life cannot end badly. Everyone came from love and will return to love. “
“Look at how things are right now on earth…war and climate abuse and Donald trump.”
“Even if you destroy the Earth and all die, you will all end up here. If Donald trump blows the earth up with nuclear bombs, you will all come right back here.”
“What about hell?”
“What about it?” She crossed her arms.
“Who goes to hell?”
“Honey, they didn’t tell you?” She raised her eyebrows. “Your home, your earth, there is no worse hell than that.”
“You mean I live in hell?”
“Or heaven, there is heaven on earth as well. It’s your choice, you are one of the lucky ones who gets to choose.”
They got me again with this overwhelming feeling of peace and love and bliss, I wanted to burst open and fly. Jesus. Where is Jesus anyways? I looked around…My teacher was gone.
I looked over and there she was. Beautiful. Wait a second. Who the hell is that? She was me, in my twenties. I was sooo confused. I was standing right before me, young me.
“Who are you?” I asked in awe.
“I am your soul,” she said and looked deeply into my eyes.
“Aren’t you usually inside of me? Aren’t you older than me?” I asked.
“There is a part of me that resides here. It’s complicated.”
“I bet it is,” I almost sneered.
“I want you to know that my role, your role, our role was to pick the circumstances of your life.”
“I thought god picks the circumstances of my life? I would not have picked some of this shit.”
“It’s kind of a joint effort. Me and god work together to decide your fate.”
“Why? Why did you do all of this to me? Why? Just tell me why did you put me through that hell of depression and mania and depression and mania? Why did you give me bipolar disorder?”
“So you would come here.”
“What? Excuse me?”
“You had to be desperate to open yourself to the possibility of coming here.” She smiled my smile.
“I’m sorry, but don’t we all end up here? Why did you take me through such a horrific route?” I cried my cry.
“You had karma, karmic debt to be exact, you had to work off.”
“What are you saying, I did something bad in my past life? Well, what did I do? I have the right to know,” I pleaded.
“You are so beautiful.” She really looked at me.
Tears ran down my face. I’m not, I don’t even feel pretty sometimes. Sometimes I feel ugly.
“You do know all of your actions from all of your lives, you just don’t remember them consciously. Your body knows, your mind knows, and I know.”
“That’s great and all, but what are they? Did I make someone crazy?” I asked between tears.
“Everyone does that. It will thwart your progress to know what else you did. That is why you don’t know, so you can progress.”
“How can I learn anything if I don’t remember my past mistakes. This system as all messed up, it’s worse than the government.”
“I didn’t make the rules, I just enforce them.” She stopped smiling as she spoke.
“OH My God, you are a police woman? You exist to police me. You want to beat me, hurt me.”
“I love you. I love me. We are one.”
“Stop with that. I’m standing here, you are there.”
“That is neither here nor there,” she whispered
“You chose this life for me? I don’t approve. I don’t like this. I don’t want this.”
“Then change it.”
“How, how do I change?
“By changing,” she said matter of factly.
“But what about all that bad karma?” I asked.
“It goes away if you give out only positive energy and receive only positive energy.”
“How do I do that?” I pleaded.
“Just do good stuff for other people and meditate on good stuff.”
That’s it. She was gone. I tell you this story not out of obligation or duty, but out of love.
I love you.
Amen. Sat Sri Akal. As Salamu Aleiykum. Namaste.