Life is a fragile thing, a tentative web made of heartbeat, breath, thought. We can be exalting in the majesty of it one moment only to be brought crashing down in a wave of destruction the next.
A car crash.
A heart attack.
One wrong footing, one bad decision, one day too long and the flame of life is snuffed out by an unseen hand.
This year has brought me face to face with mortality, a terrifying void to be confronted and one that sends even the bravest of us fleeing for safety and warmth in our mother’s arms. Life is not infinite-at least not on this earth-but scripture, myth, legends and tales of old whisper promises of an afterlife to come, an afterlife of our choice:
HEAVEN OR HELL?
My beliefs do not lead me to the conclusion that these are physical realms, but that they are indefinable and unite all souls in one way or another when our time comes.
Heaven is different to all of us. To those that believe, it is ‘the abode of God, the angels, and the spirits of the righteous after death; the place or state of existence of the blessed after the mortal life.’ But to others, it is merely ‘a place of great happiness, delight or pleasure.’ Hell on the other hand, leaves us with no doubts as to what is to come: torment and misery. The only question we are faced with is whether this state of being exists in the afterlife or if it is present in all of us now.
There is no right or wrong here; there is no definitive place on a map to which we can point the existence of a Heaven or a Hell; there is no universal answer to the question of what awaits us on the other side.
And this terrifies us.
When death knocks at our door, we become selfish beings. We hold on to our loved ones desperately, forcing them to cling to what life they have left, no matter what pain they are in. This is something we cannot be judged for.
Whether they be a friend, a lover, a family member, or a mere acquaintance, death initiates the passing on to another place. We know not if this will be a Paradise, or a Hell. We are left to hope for them to be at peace.
We are left to pray for their souls, to remember the happiness they brought us, to be tormented by their memory, for as long as we live here on this Earth.
Their Heaven becomes our Hell.