At least he is no longer suffering. At least he is at peace now. These are the things we tell ourselves, desperately searching for a silver lining to the dark cloud of Mike’s death. We want to make some sense of it, and find some way to think about it that doesn’t feel like our hearts being ripped out of our chests. So, Mike is at peace now.
I believe that when you die, your spirit is set free. But where it goes, I do not know. As hard as I try, I can’t picture where Mike is now. I can’t picture what Mike is now, or if he is anything at all. It’s not that I’m agnostic, because I’m not. I believe in God with all my heart, and with every fiber of my being. But what happens after death, because I’m still alive, I couldn’t possibly know. And that’s why death terrifies me.
According to the laws of physics, Mike’s energy had to go somewhere. Did it go up into the heavens, or back into the earth? Is he now just a part of the wind, the ocean, the trees, and the dirt? This thought is comforting to some people—death as relief from the bondage of ego, and surrender to the cosmos. When the ego/self ends, what part remains, and where does it go?
I want to believe there is more. I want to believe that life on Earth has purpose, and life after Earth has…something, anything. It seems that Mike’s spirit, the part that was uniquely him, must be somewhere. Is he hanging around here? Is he in a new body? Is he with God? Or does he only live on through the people who knew and loved him?
A few times since he left I have felt his presence. Each time it felt like he was tickling my cheek. I told him I missed him. I told him I loved him. I told him that I would take care of Mom and Dad. I told him I hoped he was at peace.
I asked Dolly where she thought Uncle Mike was now. She answered: “Here.”
She said she sometimes feels him on top of her head. She said, “He tries to talk to me in whatever way he can.” When I asked her what she meant, she said he talks to her through other people. Someone else will be talking, but she’ll hear his voice in her head. “What does he say?” I asked. “He said, ‘I’m sorry I did this.’”
Yesterday my parents had a Mass said for Mike at their church in West Virginia. Because I couldn’t be there with them, I went to Mass with my family here—Dolly, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and her fiancé, and my nephew—at as close to the same time as possible. At the church I prayed for God to watch over Mike, and truly felt that Mike was somewhere he could be watched.
As for Dolly, she believes that Mike is her guardian angel. She believes he is watching over her.