7:32 P.M.—I’m looking at heaven. My truck is parked in a peanut field right now. My coonhound, Ellie Mae, is in the passenger seat, eating my barbecue sandwich.
I just left a wedding. It was in an old clapboard church. I waited in line to shake the groom’s hand.
He hugged me and said, “God, I wish my daddy were here.”
His father’s been dead a while. I remember the day his father fell off that roof. That year, my friend wore his daddy’s jacket all the time—even in summer.
Just before I congratulated his bride, he whispered, “You think people in heaven can see us?”
All I could say was, “I hope so.”
I wish I would’ve thought to say something more poetic.
Anyway, I had to leave the reception early because Ellie Mae was waiting in my truck.
On the drive back, we stopped for barbecue. I ordered one sandwich for myself, one for Ellie.
And now I’m in a field, wondering if this isn’t what heaven’s like. Quiet. I hope heaven isn’t too loud and obnoxious like some preachers claim.
I once attended an Iron-Bowl tailgate party in Birmingham. It was so noisy I had a headache for three days. If eternity is anything like that, I’d rather raise peanuts with my fellow sinners here below.
I also hope my friend Tyler is up yonder—wherever yonder is. He overdosed on Methadone. That was a shock. None of us thought he touched anything harder than Budweiser.
One afternoon, I showed up at his apartment. A woman in a maid’s uniform answered the door. She told me the former tenant had passed.
Tyler said once that he believed dead people turned into music. And I’ve thought about that a lot since he died.
“You know how music gives you chills?” he explained, killing a Budweiser. “And everything makes sense? That’s where we go. Like music.”
Tight as he was, I know what he meant.
Because on the morning of my father’s death, my aunt opened the windows—she was a superstitious bird. Just then, a stiff breeze kicked up. It was a chilly wind that felt like good music.
Maybe Tyler had it right.
Tonight at the wedding, my friend looked good in his tux. His bride was a picture. And when the preacher instructed them to kiss, they didn’t. Instead, they embraced, pressing foreheads.
My friend cried.
So did I.
We, the congregation, knew who he was thinking about. I closed my eyes and remembered a dead man of my own.
And when the matrimonial music played, I got a chill.
The truth is, I have nary a credential to my trailer-trash name. And on matters of eternal importance, I have no inside knowledge. But I believe one thing with absolute certainty.
Wherever our loved ones are…
They see us.