Imagine There’s No Heaven

Red sunset

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“Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death but to inspire yourself to life”

Adele Brookman

Rob sent me today’s quote. It is appropriate and timely for us both. Imagining one’s life, planning the dreams you have dreamed for your future and putting them into action can be overwhelming, but re-imagining the future after your original hopes and dreams have died? Stymied stronger individuals than myself I’ve no doubt.

My imagination’s lowest setting is hyperactive. I can scare myself with relative ease. Probably the years of practice I’ve had. Lately I have been scaring myself a bit with doom and gloom scenarios as I make preparations for moving to Canada and the wedding. Rob reminds me that it is just our heightened widow’s sensitivity that makes us more susceptible to this kind of thinking but also helps us be more compassionate of others too. Kind of like a super-power, although not that cool. Actually it would make a pretty dorky super-power.

I was actually less of a risk taker in the past than I am at present which is interesting given the events of the past few years. I know many would simply be content to shore up the walls around the lives they have salvaged from the wreckage and be grateful for a little peace. But I was just not content. The last months before the first anniversary of my late husband’s death were painful. I hurt for him and me and our daughter, and what we had all been through, but mostly I wanted to move forward. And at that time, I didn’t know where or what to move towards. I only knew what I didn’t want.

There was this urge to imagine a life away from where I was and doing something that was fun and meaningful for a living. In your mind you can go anywhere and I did. Tried on all manner of places that while they might have been comfortable, didn’t fit the way a good pair of jeans do. The difference between comfort and fit is the difference between Old Navy and Lucky Brand. When Rob and I were first friends, he was always quizzing me about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my life. Partly because he is a problem-solver. Me, man. See problem, solve problem. And I love that about men in general, and him in particular, because I problem solve the way I shop for clothes. I browse through all the stores noting styles and colors. A few days later I go back and try things on, and maybe I will buy something but likely not, and after a few days more, I decide and purchase. Impulse shopping lands me with clothes I will never wear, and solving a problem without due thought and sorting is much the same scenario.

I am not sure when Rob went from a man I wanted to find someone just like to a man I was falling in love with, but he changed the staging of my daydreams about the future. And it wasn’t scary. It was, at first, that stomach dropping feeling you get when you go over the top on the Ferris Wheel or look down into the crevices from atop the rocks. Breathtaking. But, as we grew closer, talked more and spent time together; he became the future to me. The place where I knew I should be. The one I was meant for.

People who have never seen us together don’t get “us”. Certainly the way we met invites even the most casual skeptic to voice an opinion, usually negative. There is a song by Brandi Carlile called The Story that almost conveys how I feel:

All of these lines across my face

Tell you the story of who I am

So many stories of where I’ve been

And how I got to where I am

But these stories don’t mean anything

When you’ve got no one to tell them to

It’s true…I was made for you

I climbed across the mountain tops

Swam all across the ocean blue

I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules

But baby I broke them all for you

Because even when I was flat broke

You made me feel like a million bucks

Yeah you do and I was made for you

You see the smile that’s on my mouth

Is hiding the words that don’t come out

And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed

They don’t know my head is a mess

No, they don’t know who I really am

And they don’t know what I’ve been through but you do

And I was made for you…

Someone on the board wrote about feeling cheated of her time with her husband. How could he have been put in her life only to be taken away so soon? And then someone pointed out something to her she hadn’t thought of before, perhaps she had been put in his life. An interesting twist. We think of our spouses as forever because we have such a limited grasp of the concept. Our forever is really here and now. The time we are allowed with our spouses is probably even more finite because if I am here moving forward with Rob then what is Will doing? For some reason the image of him sitting on a cloud and plucking a harp waiting for me just doesn’t seem plausible. A Creator who could envision a sunset, much less create one daily, does not live in a cotton candy Christian heaven.

It is amazing where or to whom the imagination can lead you when it is free from fear and open to the possibilities. Eternity is bounded by the limits of what we can imagine. As John Lennon once said, “Imagine there is no heaven.”

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