Dearest loved one,
I know you think I have died, but I’m not gone. Death is just a four-letter word—although you might want to double check my math on that one.
Do you remember how in high-school science class your teacher talked about the first law of thermodynamics? Yeah, me neither.
So let me refresh your memory. Your teacher told you that energy could neither be created nor destroyed, but only transformed. Well, I get it now.
Nothing dies, not really. And that’s not religion, that’s science talking. In fact death doesn’t technically exist—at least not the way you think. Only change exists. Only transformation exists. Particles get disorganized, then reorganized, then re-re-reorganized.
But death? Nope.
Take flowers. They wither and become mulch, which then becomes topsoil, which then becomes minerals, which then becomes pH and soil salinity. Then, these elements reassemble themselves to become the building blocks for new flowers. On and on it goes.
Or how about water? Water forms clouds, clouds make rain, rain gathers in rivers and lakes only to be used in swimming pools, iced tea, kitchen sinks, and vodka gimlets. Water then evaporates to become more clouds.
Now I ask you. Does that sound like dying?
Or maybe you can think about it like this. Long ago, when trains still ran through small towns, children would often run to the depots and watch the trains come and go. Do you remember those days? Children would marvel at the mighty engines with their clouds of steam and sounds of diesel and steel.
Then, it happened like this: Passengers would climb aboard. The train’s doors would close. The coach would disappear over the horizon. All those people vanished in a mere instant.
But were they gone? No way. They were just unseen. Death is like that.
I am no longer seen. You cannot touch me, but I am here beside you. I am still your dad, although I cannot embrace you. I am still your mom, even though I cannot kiss you. I will always be your sister, your brother, your child, your best friend, your spouse, your lover, although I cannot hold your hand or whisper in your ear.
All I can do is look upon your marvelous face and smile at you from behind this eternal glass. You might not be aware of me, but make no mistake, I’m still around, kid.
Nobody ever tells you before you die that there is no “up there” and “down here.” Most folks live believing that their deceased loved ones are far away. Some envision a heavenly place so remote that it seems more like Fiji or Timbuktu. But it’s not like that. And I see that now.
Heaven isn’t a geographic location. It’s not on a map, there are no coordinates. Therefore, heaven is neither bound by rules of time, nor measurements of space. Thus, your manmade concept of distance doesn’t hold water in this new realm.
Don’t you see? If distance doesn’t exist, then there is no distance between us. Meaning: I’m right here, reading this over your shoulder. There’s a reason our ancestors called it the “hereafter.” Because it’s right here.
I’m not lightyears away. I’m not on a sky island surrounded by cloud coverage and the booming voice of Charleton Heston. I am seated beside you. I can smell your shampoo. I can count your freckles. And I love you so very much.
I know you miss me. Believe me, I know. I see you grieve when you think nobody is around. I have watched you weep into your hands while sitting in traffic. I’ve seen you cry yourself to sleep.
Sometimes when you sob, I want to reach through the fabric of your reality to hold you like I once did, to make it better.
But again, that isn’t how it works. You and I are separated by a thin piece of silk which neither the strongest man could tear, nor the sharpest tool could pierce. Nothing can cross this membrane that divides us except art, music, poetry and love. But I promise it won’t be like this for long.
In the meantime, don’t stop remembering me. Don’t put away my photos. Tell stories about me. If you ever begin to wonder where I am, if you ever feel lost, if you ever need evidence of me, just look around you.
I am the humidity in your curly hair on a wet day. The morning dew on your kitchen windows at sunrise. The laughter around your supper table. I am the text on this screen.
You cannot grasp me. You cannot contain me. And you wouldn’t want to, either. Because I am free in this new place. And believe it or not, I am finally perfect. I am happy. I am healthy. I am whole. And I am with you always, even until the end of time.
But I am not dead. Not even a little.