Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When I get where I'm going

Madeline and I had a conversation earlier this week that was one of those priceless ones you never want to forget. We were riding along in the car and she pointed out some vultures that were circling overhead on one side of the road. She mentioned that she and her aftercare teacher, Miss Jeannie, had seen some vultures when they had been on the playground. She told me that Jeannie said that vultures ate dead animals.

I concurred, and explained that around here, the vultures ate pretty well because of all the road kill. We live in a recently-developed area. A little over five years ago, the plot where our house sits was part of somebody's farm. We see a lot of wild animals.

Then the conversation took an interesting turn:

Madeline: Do vultures eat people?

Me: If the people are dead, yes. That's why when people die we bury their bodies in the cemetery. It's one way we show respect. We bury them so their bodies will break down and return to the Earth. [Well, no, not really, but it wasn't the right time to go into a spiel on the funeral industry.] They don't need their bodies anymore.

Madeline: Where's the spirit when that happens?

Me: Remember, when someone dies, their spirit leaves their body and goes on to Heaven.

Madeline: Like Grandpa? [Grandpa was my dad, who passed away in 2006.]

Me: Yes, that's right, Grandpa's spirit is in Heaven now.

Madeline: What does he look like?

Me: I've never seen a spirit, but some people claim that they look like a younger, healthier version of the person who died. If someone has died in an accident, they'll probably look like the accident never happened. Grandpa probably looks like he did when I was your age. I'm sure he's very handsome again!

Madeline: But when I'm dead and get to Heaven, how will I recognize him?

Me: I'm sure he won't look that different. Maybe his hair will be black again rather than white and he'll be able to stand up straighter. But I'm also pretty sure he'll know when you arrive and will be there to meet you at the entrance.

Madeline: Well, I know I'll recognize my Gramps [her paternal grandfather] in Heaven even if he looks younger. He'll still have a big nose!

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