I sat up and swung my legs over the edge of the table. I was still a little woozy, but lying on that autopsy table was gave me the creeps and I wanted to get back on my feet as quickly as possible. I hopped down, still holding on to the edge of the table. I looked around the room and asked, "Where's Barbara?"
"She said she wanted to say goodbye to her husband, but I think she just needed some time alone. I think she's having a real problem handling everything."
"That's understandable. Everything she's had faith in for the past seventy or eighty years; God, Angels, and Heaven is all crap. It's all just a figment of someone's imagination."
"Not necessarily. I mean…I still believe in that stuff."
"I know what I said earlier, I just repeated what was told to me almost forty years ago."
"How can you believe in Heaven and Hell after being like this for so long?" She was making me more confused than I already was.
Carma shrugged. "I guess I just wasn't good enough for Heaven or bad enough for Hell."
It was amazing to me the things that started making sense. If a leprechaun passed me on a unicorn, chasing the Easter Bunny, I wouldn't have taken a second glance. I'd always thought that after death all the questions would be answered, but there's just as many; maybe even more. Is there a Heaven? How good would I have had to be to make it in? Do I still have a chance to get in if I'm exceptionally good in the afterlife?
As I contemplated the heap of new crap that had been dumped on me, Barbara ran (through the wall) into the morgue. "I found it!" she yelled. "I found the light! It's on the roof. I went up there to talk to God and there it was!" Carma and I stared at each other dumbstruck. "What are you two waiting for? Let's go!"
As if stuck with a cattle prod, we all ran into the hall and toward the elevators. I tried to push the button, but my hand went right through the wall. Carma pushed the button for us. When the doors opened, Carma tapped the button for the top floor furiously until the doors closed.
"We'll have to take the stairs from the top floor to the roof," Barbara explained.
We didn't even wait for the doors to open when the car stopped. Barbara led us to the stairs and we ran up to the roof.
Outside, the sky was completely black. To our right was a circle of the brightest white light I'd ever seen. We walked in a row towards it. The vision was odd. In front of us was something so white, so bright, yet no light radiated from it.
We all stopped in front of the circle of light and joined hands with Barbara in the middle. We took a collective breath, closed our eyes, and walked forward. Almost instantly I noticed that I could no longer feel Barbara's hand. I opened my eyes; to my right, Carma stood staring at her hand.
"Hey? Where are you guys? Joe? Carma?" Barbara's voice came from the white circle behind us.
"I guess we weren't good enough," I said more to myself than anyone else.
"Oh dear," Barbara's voice said.
"Don't worry about us," Carma said, "we're just happy you made it. Now go on, enjoy yourself."
"Thank you, I'll try to put in a good word for you two."
I told Carma that I wanted to say goodbye to my wife and kids and I'd see her at the morgue in a few hours. I have to say I was disappointed about not getting into Heaven, but I wasn't really as upset about it as I thought I'd be.
I stepped off the roof and gently floated down to the ground. I caught a ride on the back of a pick up truck that drove within a few blocks of my house. As I walked the rest of the way, I thought about how hard it would be to see my family, knowing I wouldn't see them again for a year, also knowing that they would never be able to see me again.
"…to Heaven to be with Grandma and Grandpa," I heard my wife, Angie, say as I passed into the living room. The kids were sitting on the couch, my wife on the coffee table facing them. They were all crying.
"Why doesn't he want to be with us anymore?" Jenny asked. I felt like an elephant stepped on my heart.
"It's not like that," Jimmy said, sounding older than his twelve years. "God wanted him to come up to Heaven to be with Him."
"But I want him to be here…with us…where he belongs!" She ran out of the living room and disappeared into the hall, a door slammed on the other end of the house.
Angie buried her face in her hands and bawled. My son stood up and put his arms around her, trying so hard to keep from losing it himself. I knew he would be able to keep the family together. He would become a strong, good man and I loved him even more for it.
I blew a kiss to Angie and Jimmy and walked through the house to Jenny's room. She was lying on her bed crying into her pillow. I sat on the edge of the bed and whispered to her, "Honey, daddy has to go away. It's nobody's fault. But whatever happens, I want you to remember that I'll always be with you in your heart and in your memories." I tried to caress her curly, brown hair, but my hand went right through it. "I love you," I said as I walked back outside. I could have sworn I heard her say, "I love you too, daddy."
I took my time getting back to the hospital, occasionally hitching a ride with an unknowing driver that was heading in the right direction. To be honest, I was doing a lot of thinking. I debated staying outside my body so I would be trapped in my coffin forever. That would be bad, but would it be any worse than seeing my family once a year and not being able to touch them and hug them and kiss them and tell them how much I love them. Seeing them would be my Heaven, not being able to hold them would be my Hell.
Somewhere along the way, I decided to give this thing a shot. The rest of the night, I sat in the morgue listening to Carma's story just like you're listening to mine.
Anyway, that was eight years ago. I have to tell you it's not really that bad being dead. The days between your…um…birthdays will go by pretty fast and the night out is definitely worth it.
Before you make your own decision, you might wanna go up to the roof and see if you can get into Heaven. I wish you luck.
Me? No…I'd given up on that years ago. I've come to accept this as my destiny. This is my Heaven and my Hell.
I know it's an odd view of what happens after death, but, who knows, it might be true. Thanks for the kind reviews.