A few weeks ago I was feeding Ira, my 7-month old, and we were listening to Sufjan Stevens’ record, Carrie & Lowell. The theme of the album is centered around the death of his mother, and if you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend it.
Anyway, there’s a song on there called “Fourth of July” and it is haunting to say the least, especially when
There’s that ultimate, cosmic elephant in the room: What happens when we die?
you know the context. The refrain is “we’re all gonna die,” and I listened to it as I sat there feeding my baby while my older child slept in his bed.
Suddenly, I was overcome with the thought that it is inevitable that I will one day be separated from my children, and they from Alexis and me. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
So I sat there, sobbing, while my son ate his applesauce.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wondered about death. I can’t really trace back to when or how it started, but I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that one moment you’re here and the next, you’re not. We just become these empty, lifeless bodies. And we’re not all freaking out about it. As a society, we’re doing nothing to combat it or relieve it. Everyone has just accepted the refrain: We’re all gonna die.
Now, there are plenty of ways our society observes death. A group of scientists recently developed a new theory on why we die, and it’s pretty interesting. Basically, we die because it’s better for the future of our species, which totally makes sense, I guess.
BUT there’s still that ultimate, cosmic elephant in the room: What happens when we die? Literally, no one knows for certain. And it’s basically impossible to find out.
So, here we are — staring at these curtains we can’t look behind and to me, that is scary and beautiful and depressing and wild.
What am I supposed to do with this? How can I have these thoughts AND still wake up every day, go into work, worry about RFPs and PDQs, come home, talk to my wife, play with my boys, question if I should get a second helping of dinner when I know there might be cookies, catch up on TV, get in bed and fall asleep KNOWING that one day, everyone I love will be ripped from existence?
The Christian thing to think is, “Well, we’ll all meet again in Heaven one day.” But that doesn’t bring me much comfort. Because apparently in Heaven, we’re all perfect. So it’s all different, and we’re all different people. Which means our relationships are different.
But I love my relationships with my family and friends as they are. In fact, isn’t that the thing we mourn when our loved ones die?
Plus, Heaven as a literal place and time is confusing. For me, it only brings questions and more questions; stuff reserved for a totally different post from a totally different person.
There’s that old song that starts: This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through…
But this world is my home. It was given to me and created for me. It’s where every ounce of my energy is focused. This world is where we are. And I believe God is here, too. He’s not somewhere else; He’s right here among us.
We’re all right here. So why go somewhere else?
I don’t know. And that kinda sucks.
Ike Peters is a husband to Alexis Peters, father of two boys (Elliott, 2 years old, and Ira, 7 months old), and a Senior Copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi X.