Many years ago, when I had done a going-the-extra-mile kinda good turn for a young friend who was really struggling at the time, he exclaimed afterwards that my "place in heaven is assured". I thought it was a sweet thing to say, but paid it no mind as
a) I don't believe in an afterlife
b) even if I did I thought there might be a bit more TO it than that
But the Jewish faith has it that whosoever says one life saves the world entire. My friend was struggling with a profound and all-pervading depression and quite powerful suicidal ideation, so maybe he might have had a point.
So even now, some fifteen or more years later, his words stray across my mind from time to time and I think to myself, well what if this life ISN'T all there is to it and The Husband is right when he quips that there is just this life, and the afterlife and THEN there is nothing? I then wonder, if I could create my own Marion-made heaven rather than just buying into a pre-manufactured one from some established faith, what shape and form would it take? After all, if it is to be perpetual bliss, all tastes do need to be catered for, right?
I'd like it to be musical. Very musical, with opportunities for all. I'd like to join a celestial choir rehearsing great works like the Verdi Requiem, or the Mozart Mass in C or the J S Bach B Minor Mass, and I'd like the rehearsals to be taken by the composers.
I'd like to have occasional tea parties where we get to have a chat with our dear departeds who have gone before, but I wouldn't like to live with them, you understand. Too many other people to meet and greet. I don't want to have a house prepared for me in heaven, but a little bedsit might be nice.
I hope there are pets. But if not, I hope we get video links to pet heaven, like cute YouTube clips available in perpetuity of our particular furry and feathered chums having a whale of a time.
I'd like there to be no rancour if I bump into anyone I ever fell out with in any permanent sort of a way whilst on earth. I'd like to assume that our final moments, our terminal illnesses and death throes will have be enough of a transformative experience to make anything we once quarelled about seem stupidly trivial in comparison.
I'd like not to have to bathe, or wash my hair, or pay any particular attention to any part of my physical entity that might remain. Except for eating and drinking. I'd like to eat and drink and socialise convivially without any digestive processes whatsoever, just a sensation on the tongue or in the mouth. But I do NOT want "foie gras to the sound of trumpets". I'd love trumpets of course (the Verdi Dies Irae would be pale relation of its earthy version without trumpets) but I cannot abide foie gras.
I'd like to sleep as much or as little as I wanted and always awake refreshed.
I'd like not to have osteoarthritis.
And I'd like to be still married to The Husband. THIS husband. Not The Daughter's Father. But in a chummy easy-going sort of a way where we each get to do his or her own version of heaven without the other ever feeling in any way neglected or ignored. Perhaps we could meet daily over one of those delicious meals where we savour but don't digest, to compare notes on which great mind he'd heard lecture that afternoon, or which great master painter I had had an art class with in the morning.
And after dinner I'd like us to be able to dance - effortlessly and elegantly - to a cracking 1930s big band in a divinely beautiful ballroom, waving nonchalantly to Fred and Ginger as we pass
All in all, I'd like heaven to be a very, very large and stimulating University of the Fourth Age on classy cruise ship in never-ending fair weather.
But I expect I shall get what I am given. We all will...