My younger brother took the train out to Colorado to spend Mother's day with our mom. Aside from ensuring his favorite son status for months to come, he also got to share plenty of hours of conversations with complete strangers on the trip. He said that he had a twinge of regret for not responding to his fellow traveller's bizarre stories with his own vision of the world, including his belief that the world actually ended in a nuclear holocaust in 1990. The intervening twenty-plus years have simply been phantom pains much in the same way amputees experience the sensation from lost limbs. Our lives ended a couple of decades ago, but we're still sorting it all out.
Why not? He went on to suggest that if he were to be a ghost, he would like to have a choice about what sort of haunting he might get to do. This made me think of my friend Darren, who once announced to his younger sister while they watched John Carepenter's "The Fog," that he wouldn't be one of those creepy spirits that would come back and make things scary for those of us who are left behind on the material plane. He anticipated an afterlife more along the lines of the Three Stooges than Jacob Marley. Whenever things go missing around my house, or the kitchen sink sprayer squirts me directly in the chest when I'm trying to rinse my breakfast dishes, I suspect him, God Rest His Soul.
Like the sixty-one percent of those responding to the poll who were sure that Osama bin Laden was currently residing in someplace less than Heaven, I want to be certain about what waits for me on the other side. Though I expect that if I am to be truly and effectively punished for my sins here on Earth, then I will have to wait. Hopefully eternity will bring me less time with a stainless steel hook, and more time with a whoopie cushion.