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Health & Wellness

Who do you want to see in Heaven?

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I recently came across a beautiful poem, “Heaven,” by Patrick Phillips, and it got me thinking about the future. Not the temporal future, but the spiritual future – what some call the afterlife.

It will be the past and we’ll live there together – not as it was to live, but as it is remembered,” wrote Mr. Phillips.

I am guessing most people have some personal image of what Heaven is like.  For me, consistent with the poem, I’ve always envisioned being met by a small throng of people with whom I had enjoyed special relationships on earth.  Maybe even a celestial receiving line.  How reassuring it would be to see the people you’d loved or those who had touched you in some meaningful way.

For most of us, of course, this would include family – parents, siblings, grandparents, favorite aunts and uncles, maybe even in-laws.  I thrill at the notion of embracing, once again, my late mom, dad and my little brother Mark.  But what if the line held some additional spots – say, three of them – for others, outside the family, who’d indelibly figured into your existence in some special way?  Who would they be? 

I thought and thought.  It’s a really tough question – but here’s what came to me:

  • Miss Daniels, my first-grade public school teacher.  I can’t remember her first name.  With blonde hair in a memorable ribbon-tied bun, she was beautiful and young.  I had a crush on her and was broken-hearted to learn years later that she’d passed away.   She was also kind and competent and made me feel like I belonged, like the classroom was not an alien place.  Way back in 1952, Miss Daniels set me on a positive path, and I’d love to see her again, if only to thank her. 
  • Roland DiPolo was my roommate in 1969 at the Army Pathfinder School at Fort Benning, GA.  Under the pressure of barking drill sergeants and formidable paratrooper training, we bonded.  He was sweet-faced, trusting and 19.  At 23, I regarded him as a younger brother.  On weekends, we raced his little red convertible to his home in the Florida Panhandle, where his mother’s meals were a respite from the mess hall.  On a whim, Roland married his high school sweetheart the night before he shipped out to Vietnam.  One month later, he was killed by mortar fire.  If I could, I’d say, “We’re home, brother.” 
  • Bill Schreyer was one of the most memorable bosses I ever had.  For 36 years, until he died in 2011 at the age of 83, he was also a mentor and friend, teaching those around him the importance of relationships.  We travelled the world together, sharing triumphs, disappointments and, always, humor.  Although a caring man, he showed his sentimentality only through a favor, a gesture, or a meaningful joke.  On one of his final days, I had a moment alone with him.  “Bill, I want you to know I love you,” I said.  His response: “I know you do, Paul.”  If I were to see him again, I’d tell him the same thing.

So now you get to choose.  Who would you like to see in Heaven?

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