I told my friends last night that the grief I feel over my brother's death has exploded much of my theology about the afterlife*. Maybe "exploded" is the wrong word. Maybe what I mean is that what I've thought about the afterlife is in many ways horribly incomplete, but I never knew it until I desperately wanted to see a bigger picture. Oh how my head butts up against that invisible barrier between heaven and earth, between the sphere of earthly bodies and those of heavenly ones. I want to be a fly on the wall in that other realm, want to know the mind and wisdom of the creator of the universe, the creator of this whole system. And I want to reach across the boundary and grab my brother's hand (except he doesn't have one), pull him back here, speak to him one more time.
I simply don't have a way to answer the questions that currently run through my head:
1) What was his experience as he lay dying, while still on life support, when his brain was showing no signs of life? Where was his spirit?
2) Was he in some earth/heaven limbo for those 7.5 hours?
3) Did he see a bright light/Jesus/God? I feel so Oprah for phrasing it this way.
4) In heaven, will Jesus let Henry know how much I love(/d) him? Will he be reminded how much we all loved him (because the death of one we love compels us to wonder such things)?
5) Or would this knowledge stay hidden in the shadows of whatever marvelous things happen in heaven? In other words, is it only the living who ask such questions?
5) Will my brother see us grieving here on earth? Will Jesus let him hear and watch his funeral service, the letter I read for him (because if he never hears it, what good does it do--after all, it was addressed to him)?
6) Why are these my questions?
6) Where are the wedding pictures of his I took two years ago on my digital camera? My husband and I cannot find them, despite tearful searching. (ok-so theology can't tackle that one.)
7) The last question is from my three-year old: Did his skateboard die, too?
*Thank you Ali for saying this is an appropriate response to grief.