In Eloghosa Osunde’s column Melting Clocks, she takes apart the surreality of time and the senses.
When I say the name Heaven, someone I love answers me through two realms and a time machine. It doesn’t matter where our bodies are in the world, what distance separates us, or what headlines are going on about, I say that name and we appear elsewhere. When we rechristened each other recently, we gave and received three names each. They call me [redacted] or [redacted] or [redacted] and the world stops. I call them Heaven or [redacted] or [redacted] and the Earth’s core shifts. All six of our names have different emotional hefts for me, but I suppose Heaven carries a particular weight. There were borders between us when I chose the name, so they didn’t see the choice in real time, but they know my why. They cried, too, when they first heard it, because they know what this word means to me.
There was a time when I was obsessed with staying saved and helping loved ones get on the road to heaven. I called that love. That level of conviction gave me something to live for, but after I released it, I realized the obsession added indelible bass to my anxiety. Sometimes, when I get still enough, I can still feel the reverb thudding through me. When people die now, though, I don’t see them facing a heated binary, standing before a white light: Heaven or Hell? Instead, I close my eyes and support their spirit in what it believed. I wish for them what they wished for themselves. And beyond that: I imagine with them what they imagined for themselves, or what their spirit would have dreamed of if they weren’t afraid. It’s been this way for years: I see dead people deciding, because a sure thing I know is that every person has a spirit—whether they are awake to it or not—and our spirits have agency, so that we can cocreate our own realities with God.
But I suppose if you’re vanilla about life, the way I think and talk about death in person—openly, vocally, quasi-casually—would be considered morbid. It’s both big and small talk to me, and I do both. Even then, I (still) find myself holding back more than I would if I wasn’t scared of scaring the people I love. Now largely unplugged from religious imaginations of The Afterlife, I know what I am working toward instead. There are implications for what I see as possible beyond death, and those implications double as instructions coded onto my spirit. I accept the challenge without flailing. To get to that thing, that place—my own personal heaven—there’s work I have to do in this lifetime; there are things I have to allow to change me, because when I die, I don’t want to be wished into an eternity I did not conceive, an everlastingness I did not imagine, a heaven that cannot hold me. My loved ones know what I have agreed with God instead. I’m at peace with that. Read More