imagining heaven


50 years ago (I’m the one with the crazy orange pants)

My father died a few months ago. Since his passing, I’ve felt closeness to him that I hadn’t felt in the last 6 months of his life…since he had stopped communicating with me, but I still struggled when I thought about his wife.

I hadn’t seen her in years (her choice) and we’d never had a friendly relationship, so I didn’t expect any communication with her after his death, but I guess I did expect that I would be named, as one of his children, in his obituary. I wasn’t, and neither were any of my siblings (my father’s children) or any of their, or my, children…no one on “our side” was mentioned by name.

When my stepmother’s daughter (whom I had never met) called me to say that my father had passed away and that there wouldn’t be a funeral, she did mention that there would be a memorial service this summer, adding that my father had meant so much to her family.

A few weeks ago, I had a dream about my father and his wife was there too. My father was very “background” in the dream, and I was fully engaged with his wife…and it was so loving and warm that I felt I was with my best friend. I felt love pouring from both of us toward each other. I woke up feeling that love as a lingering presence and thought, “You now have a new experience of J…” and you also have a choice; you can go back to the past with no good memories of your relationship with her or you can begin again in your mind.” At the time it was very clear what I wanted to do/think. I loved that dream so much and the feelings were so pure. How could I choose resentment or bitterness over that? But in the past few weeks, those feelings have faded and I can feel the old ones creep in again when I think about her…especially since my father had promised me a gift, in his will, when he passed, and it looks like that was changed sometime before he died.

So, here I am, being given the opportunity to choose forgiveness and understanding or resentment and disappointment. I choose the former, because I really do understand. I understand what if feels like to be possessed by fear, self-righteous anger, jealously and a firm resolve not to see another person’s point of view. I’ve lived that in my past and it is hell. I don’t choose forgiveness and understanding because I am a good or spiritual person. I choose it because I have the presence of mind to choose and because I want love inside of me. I want to remember that dream of loving communion and breath deeply the Truth of that. I also want to be forgiven for all of the times that I hurt others when I was too blind to my own pain to do anything else.

Even though my father cut me off at the end of his life, it has come to me that things worked the way they were supposed to. My father adored Jack, and if we had been communicating last summer, I’m sure I would’ve told him what had happened, and it would’ve broken his heart.

So today as I write, I feel lightness in my heart …like there is little laugh right at the edge of my consciousness that wants to burst out. I was going to say that I’m a little poorer (referring to being out of my father’s will) but I’m not poor at all. I have a sense of being OK deep inside…I am in heaven.


Of course! the path to heaven

doesn’t lie down in flat miles. It’s in the imagination
with which you perceive
this world,

and the gestures
with which you honor it.       Mary Oliver





13 thoughts on “imagining heaven

  1. How sad for your stepmother that she never had the joy of a relationship with you or your siblings….instead, I suspect there was jealousy, fear that your father could not love you all….good for you that you can put it behind you. It’s not easy….and sad that all communication between you and your father had stopped, but as you say, at least he never knew anything of the trouble you and Jack were having…Not to mention any of you in the obituary is just such a sign of her problems…! Pam

    • well, I’m not sure how much of a joy we were (only partly kidding here) but it is such a relief to write about this. I felt disloyal writing when my father was alive…now I feel open and ready to say “my truth”. Thank you for being a witness for me Pam.

  2. I’m so glad your posts are coming more regularly that they had been. Each story helps me face life with a little more joy, ease, and lightness of being.

  3. someone just pointed out that in the post I wrote, “So, here I am, being given the opportunity to choose forgiveness and understanding or resentment and disappointment. I choose the latter, because I really do understand. I understand what if feels like to be possessed by fear, self-righteous anger, jealously and a firm resolve not to see another person’s point of view’ and that I meant to say, ‘former, not latter”…I had to laugh…was that a Freudian Slip? Oh god, I hope not (smile)

  4. Dear Mary, I am so pleased for you that you are back into the writing mode, but especially glad that you are in the mode for telling truths, showing up with your true self and being able to express yourself with feelings of honesty and openness. I have been having my own personal struggles the last many months, but haven’t written about it. Your words give me courage to consider expressing myself more truthfully. Thank you as always for being you!

  5. Mary, there is more comfort in nursing our hurts and wounds and rehashing them in our minds. Why, I wonder? What a sadness that your father’s family could not have included his children from his former marriage. It says more about them, than about you and your siblings. And yet, it was nice to hear that a stepsister, though through no relationship with you other than through your father, found him to be a father to her. It says a lot of about the second family he married into more than the one he left but how discouraging to end your life in that way. It obviously was beyond his control, his obituary even if he had written it previous to his death. Ideally, not carrying resentment and anger is better for our own health and mind. But it’s a hard nut to crack sometimes. And yes, I read the former/latter and sorted it out in my mind. Our fingers and minds do not always co-ordinate when typing.
    SandyP, in Ont, Can.

  6. You’ve related what I’m sure was a difficult time and risen above what (often) we address with our most base and primitive selves. Family dynamics……what a rollercoaster! Glad to hear you took the road less traveled and you’re a better person for it. That warmth will spread to everyone that reads this. Peace, love, and serenity to you and yours. God bless.

  7. It’s so nice to read another entry in your beautiful blog, Mary. I’m so glad that you resolved a difficult family situation in your heart, and do not hold onto emotions that can harm you. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your healing.

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