Where Do We Go When We Leave This Life?

Madeline L’Engle is one of my favorite authors and has been for a long time. My introduction to Ms. L’Engle’s works came through the children’s book, A Wrinkle in Time. I read it, and all the others in that series, and searched for more, reading many children’s and adult books by this wonderful author.

Recently, I found The Summer of the Great-Grandmother a memoir about the summer her mother’s decline into dementia, or arteriosclerosis, as it was known at that time. It became poignant as, during the time I read it, my husband and I attended three funerals, one for a sweet lady who had suffered from this horrible disease for the last year-and-a-half.

Ms. L’Engle is as passionate about her Christianity as I am about mine, though they are different. Still, I found her thoughts about the end of her mother’s life similar to those so many of us consider at the passing of a loved one from this life into the next.

We all think about life, at these times of passing, wondering where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going when this life is all over. Now is not a time to share my beliefs on that topic. Just know that I have a strong and firm understanding.

I love the poem by Wordsworth. From his Ode, Intimations of Immortality we read:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home …

Ms. L’Engle worried about these same things. Her concerns were about where we go after this life, and will we be remembered, by others, or by our God. She said:

“To the ancient Hebrew the ultimate hell consisted in being forgotten, erased from the memory of family and tribe, from the memory of God. If God forgets you, it is as though you have never existed. You have no meaning in the ultimate scheme of things. Your life, your being, your ousia, is of no value whatsoever. You are a tale told by an idiot; forgotten; annihilated.

“How many people have been born, lived rich, loving lives, laughed and wept, been part of creation, and are now forgotten, unremembered by anybody walking the earth today?”

Certainly something to be concerned about. Who wants to think our lives are so unimportant, they will be forgotten? Not me, though I know that after I am gone, my children and grandchildren will the the last to remember me.

I find peace in knowing, as Eve did, that I will return to my Father in Heaven, a Father who loves me, cares for me, and as he knows my name now, he will know and remember me in the next life.

Sadly, our extended family is feeling the greater sorrow of the loss of a young teenager. He did not live his life to the fullest. He will never graduate from High School, will not kiss a girl for the first time. His parents feel his loss to their core. Preparations for his funeral and burial were not in their plans for this summer. Certainly, their hearts are broken, and they are asking if they will ever see their son again.

Eve struggled with the loss of her child when Cain slew Abel. Her sorrow felt palpable to me, as I wrote about this in Eve, First Matriarch. I felt the sorrows of other matriarchs, when they lost children. In my soon to be released book (book 3) Finding Peace, a mother faces the loss of her children to kidnapping and the inability to find them or know about them. This mother, overwhelmed by grief, was taught by Mother Eve to find hope.

She (Eve) tightened her hug and added, “This I do know, darling granddaughter, you will be reunited with them. Perhaps not in this world, but surely in the next. This is the promise and gift of the covenants we made. Our children will be ours once more. Ask Enos. Ask Seth. Ask Adam.”

This I believe with all my soul. This I know. We will be united with our loved ones. We will be remembered.

I hope we are at the end of our funerals this summer, but as our friends age, we will be faced with loss of friends and loved ones.

How about you? What do you think?