The people we allow into our hearts change us. They make a space inside our soul and own it. They create moments that shape how we live our own lives. They are intrinsically a part of us. And as such, it breaks us when they die.
When I was little, I used to think that when people got old, they would magically float off into the sky and dance on the clouds all day with unicorns and puppies. It was a perfect explanation for a kid who can’t understand why someone is gone.
Then I was taught about Heaven and Hell.
As long as you are good and do the right thing in life, you can spend your afterlife pretty much how I described it before, partying on top of the puffy clouds with the puppies. But if you are bad, you go to a place of eternal fire and are never happy or loved again. It’s a wonderful thing to tell your children to get them to behave, right? You steal that candy bar, you will be forever burning in Hell.
Now that I am am adult, and have lost so many people, my thoughts have been clouded with a swirling of conflicting emotions. Too many pieces have been broken and I’m not sure what to believe anymore.
I want to believe in the shiny happy version of an afterlife with a loving creator who will forever give me treasures in Heaven. And I want to believe that those I have had to say goodbye to are waiting for me on the other side.
But who knows for sure?
I have no idea if there is a Heaven. Or if there is a Hell.
If there is an afterlife at all.
If death is truly the big dark end of it all.
But what I have come to know for certain is that when people die, although we might feel that they are lost, we are wrong. Their bodies may have lived out their purpose on Earth, but the essence of who they are is still here.
Who we are isn’t in our hair, our skin, our bones. Who we are lies within our thoughts, our emotions, our conversations, our moments and memories. And if we are lucky enough to have people, then we are kept alive in the hearts and minds of those who love us.
Yes, I know it sounds corny-“alive in our hearts”, but just think about it like this…
We are all just a lifetime of memories. A bunch of mental photographs put together in a scrapbook of the mind. Our memories ARE our life blood. They are who we are more than our physical attributes or properties. Swapping someone’s arms or legs doesn’t make them someone else. A body is just a vessel carrying the essence of ourselves.
Whether you call it a soul, or a spirit, it is what is inside of you that makes you the person you are.
So, we are never truly lost.
We are just broken into a million different pieces and spread out among those who love us.
Each person holds a piece of who we are and gets to carry it with them as a token of a life worth lived.
And the best thing you can do for those who have gone is just to remember them. To talk about the moments and the memories. To keep them around and continue giving them that space in your heart that they earned by loving you. It’s not about moving on without them, because you can’t do that. You can’t erase them from your life by never talking about them, just because it hurts. They will always be there, and don’t they deserve to be?
So whether or not we get to enjoy a beautiful afterlife, and I really do hope I get to see all of those I’ve loved again, it is vitally important to make this life the best we can and to share it with those we love.
Make memories, have adventures, live and love every moment with family and friends. They will be the ones to carry you with them when you go.