Recently someone posed me the question I believe made popular by the latest book and film based on a true story, “Heaven Is For Real”. I was asked, “If you knew heaven was for real, wouldn’t you change the way you live?” The poser of the question, a self-proclaimed devout Christian, has a laundry list of things she would change, if only she were sure that heaven existed.
“…wouldn’t you change the way the you live?”
My answer to the question is no. I wouldn’t change the way I live. I don’t know if that speaks highly of me or poorly of her, but there is nothing I would change. I seek to live and love and take care of myself, my family and this planet to the best of my ability. I see those things as gifts, period, not gifts from a god, just gifts that I should appreciate and keep well, not for the reward that may or may not come after.
As I sit here and think about my cousin who died three days ago of a heroin overdose I wonder what I could have done for him and, religion or no religion, why he was not able to cherish his life. It sounds cliché or even cruel now that he is gone, but he had everything going for him before he started taking drugs – a loving family, a beautiful wife, tons of friends, his health, his good looks (it runs in the family, of course), an excellent education, what looked like might be a promising career, the means necessary to make his dreams come true. And now he’s gone, leaving his mother with the memory of the first time she laid eyes on him at his birth and the last time as she found his lifeless body. I cry, but not for me. I cry for them, his mother who has no time to to grieve as she has to keep the family together, for my uncle who hoped the latest prison time and tough love would finally do the trick, for his sister who lost her closest confidante and of course for him – for losing his will to live, his will to fight. I think that the family will never be the same again.