I haven’t read Mitch Albom’s book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. But just seeing the title in my local library got me thinking about who I’d like to visit in the Eternal Afterward. There’s loved ones I’ll want to hug right away; my husband and parents, friends and relatives. Then there’s people I’ve always wondered about, like Joan of Arc, Einstein, and Florence Nightingale. But the non-family person I’d really love a conversation with is John Lennon.
My guess is, he’s still so popular, he needs an agent to organize his time. Possibly an angel, or some lucky deceased fan. As I see him in my mind’s eye, he looks a bit weary. I didn’t think that was possible in heaven. But then, I’m just an ordinary person, and not famous. So what do I know. I have a hushed meeting with his agent before we begin.
“Don’t ask him any questions about the whole’ ‘the Beatles are more popular than Jesus’ thing. People think they can joke about it, and frankly, even Jesus doesn’t want to hear that one anymore. If you want to talk about their time in India, he suggests you make an appointment with George Harrison.’
I nod eagerly, just wanting all the formalities to go away so I can sit face to face with my grade school crush, John Lennon. Remember the bubble gum cards? Anyway. Is he really as sincere as he seemed on earth? Are his ideals still lofty? Does he truly believe that we here on earth can give peace a chance? I just can’t wait to find out.
Finally, we sit face to face. He’s not as relaxed as I would like, but since he probably thought heaven would be one long holiday, I can’t say I blame him. I smile and before I can stop myself, I say, ‘Help. I need somebody.” Then I grin. “It’s you.” His eyes roll so hard, I think they’re going to leave their sockets and I’m certain I just blew my meeting with J.L. But then, yaay! He smiles back.
“I’m so glad you didn’t say, ‘I’ve got a ticket to ride. That’s where I draw the line.’
‘As if,’ I reply, trying not to look guilty. (That had been my initial, ice-breaking idea.) ‘I’m more interested in your song, Imagine. How do you feel, now that you’re in heaven? Like, oh no, I never imagined I’d end up here?” I see him barely suppress a yawn and realize he’s answered this question many times.
‘It was never about heaven being real,’ he says. ‘It was always about people not making excuses to fight each other. Not using religion to divide the world.’ I almost don’t hear what he’s saying. I’m so in love with that lilting Scouse accent one finds only in Liverpool and surrounding area, that I lose track of our conversation. The agent wanders over.
‘One minute left,’ he whispers in my ear. I know my bible, so I have a ready reply. ‘A day in God’s life is like a thousand years.’ The angel agent (they had to get rid of the deceased fan…he wouldn’t let anyone else see John) replies, ‘You’re not God.” There’s barely time for me to shout, ‘All my loving!’ before I’m ushered swiftly away, still feeling a bit star struck.
Back in the warm hills around my snug hobbit hole (my current dream of a heavenly residence, as long as there are windows) I breathe the fresh air and try to decide who I’ll bother next. The possibilities are endless. Einstein? Mother Theresa? Michelangelo? I sigh at the infiniteness of it all and wonder what to do with my time, besides going on tropical vacations with my husband. (It’s a thing here.) Suddenly, a bell rings. It’s time for the millions strong choir to sing heaven’s anthem. (Also a thing.) I change into my long white robe and rush out the door, energized by a brilliant idea. If I hurry, I might secure a spot beside Aretha Franklin. But just in case, I’ll check in with her agent first.