At the wake for Al Marley yesterday, Father Richard C. Messina gave a stirring description of what he thinks the afterlife might look like.
He described how people get excited when a baby is on the way.
“The baby will be here soon!” friends and family will say. Then the baby arrives and the aunts, uncles, grandparents and family friends come to meet the little tyke. It’s the beginning of life.
That, Father Dick said, is what it must be like in Heaven. Everyone who went before you is up there saying, “Al is almost here! We’ll see him soon.” Then you die, and everyone up there excitedly comes to greet you.
“I have no doubt Sean was there to grab him by the arm and pull him to the other side,” Father Dick said.
I know he’s right. In the room in the funeral home where they show a slideshow of the deceased’s life, there were some pictures of Sean I hadn’t seen in a long time: Sean, with a jet-black mohawk, cutting his father’s hair, wedding photos, family trips to the beach in the 1970s and 1980s.
Buried in the slide deck was another picture I hadn’t seen in a long time. It’s my brother Michael and Al, sitting on a log. They appear to be doing something with a fishing line. Both have big smiles on their faces.
Of course they did. They were both madly in love with the sea.
Seeing that picture was probably the closest I came to losing it. But I never lose it in public.
I know Michael was there with Sean to greet Al. I can picture them getting on a boat and sailing into the clouds. It makes me smile.
Everything is going to be fine. Better than fine.