Imagine being but an empty soul, a ghost, no longer human. Because what are we without a body? What is life without the taste of the summer’s first strawberries, or the feeling of ice cream melting on your tongue? Or: Your hands, cold from a walk in snowy weather, closing around a cup of hot chocolate; the heat seeping into your skin, warming up your very bones; the sweet aroma filling the air as you bring the cup close to your mouth. What are you now, when you cannot sink into the loving embrace of your husband, your wife, your lover? Try reading a book, contemplating a painting, admiring the landscape when your eyes have been taken away. Try listening to music in you new soundless world. What are you now when you have lost so much?
Imagine a place with saints in every corner, where eternal peace and joy reigns. No heartbreak, no abuse, no desolate tears, no cries of rage. But what is this dispassionate life? Is there laughter in this perfect kingdom? Could you live in this place, with only perfect people? Like the heroes in a bad novels, who only ever do what is right.
If this is heaven I do not wish it for you. Better then that you are earth, grass and flowers.
But i cannot help but dream of a heaven for you. A place filled with laughter but no stranger to tears. Because what is life without sadness, and why continue existing after death if not to live? In heaven there is a giant library, with room for all the books ever written. You did not have to leave your beloved Commissario Brunetti behind, after all. In heaven there is always time for tea and gossip. You bond with Dostoevsky over your common illness and drive your acquaintances crazy by bragging about me and my sister to everyone you meet.
Heaven is the place where you welcome me when the time comes. In my mind it looks surprisingly much like the arrivals at Helsinki airport.
Heaven is the place that lets you see me right now, in this apartment, which I have bought, like a proper grown up person. Heaven is the place where you sit and know that I am ok, and from where you hear me say:
Hyvää syntymäpäivää, äiti! Rakastan sinua.
For books containing some interesting fictional ideas on the afterlife I suggest The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier, Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and the His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman.