You know Junebug, I have an aunt who genuinely believes that her mother and my grandmother are standing in heaven in front of some celestial stove, stirring the sauce and getting ready to serve up a great feast to my grandpa and my uncle and other long dead loved ones, who are sitting in the next celestial room, playing cards or watching the ballgame.
She assured me after my father's death that he was there too. My sweet father was always an outcast in my mom's extended family household. So if he is there, sitting with the men in some celestial lazy-boy, I have to imagine him reading Bertrand Russell while the other men watch the game. My aunt, I assume, would put my mom in the kitchen with the other women, in a subservient role she only took on when she was in her parents' home. I cannot imagine an uglier fate for my smart, competent, trend setting mom, who broke so many rules in life, but who fell into a traditional role in her parents' home.
My aunt imagines that the Sunday suppers of her youth are going on for all eternity in the afterlife, and that some day, she will join the feast with her loved ones.
She finds comfort in this belief. And as much as I would enjoy being reunited with all of these people who I loved during their lifetimes, I find my aunt's images more than a little disturbing. But I can't deny that I envy the comfort she must find when she imagines this eternity. I miss my mom and my dad so much. I would love to believe that they are waiting for me, looking down on me and my daughter, watching her grow, and preparing for all of us to spend an eternity together.
But I don't believe it. The impact that my beautiful, amazing parents had on planet earth continues to reverberate. Sometimes I see my daughter make a gesture that looks just like my dad's common gestures. She never knew my sweet gentle father. And even though I don't recognize those gestures as my own, they must come from me.
My beliefs, my temperament, my passions and motivations, so much of who I am is a continuation of the people who loved me and raised me. And although my sweet daughter is not genetically related to any of us, I know that my parents' influences live on through her. She knows that I grew up in a household with two people who loved books, but who treated those beloved books differently. My father read straight backed at a desk, never bending the books, leaving each one brand new. My mother curled up with books and spilled food on them and folded the pages over rather than using a book mark. When my daughter touches a book gently, with reverence, she says she is being like my father. When she bends the page down on a book she is reading in bed, she says she is being like my mother. They live on. In so many ways.
I find comfort thinking about the ways they live on. Their impact is so wide spread. So many lives are richer because my beautiful parents lived their lives here on planet earth, during a time of change and upheaval.
And I also find comfort thinking about the nature of the universe. I've posted this video several times before I think, and I'll probably post it again. But when Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks about time and space and matter, I share his feeling of connection with the universe and time and space.