Why Not Just Believe in the Afterlife?

I was sad about my Dad’s death so I looked up my old friend Richie. He had been my best friend in third grade, but everybody from my elementary school had lost touch from him. A friend of a friend told me I might be able to see him if I waited at Church Avenue station. It was a cold night, but I gave it a try.

After a few hours the train came into the station and the doors opened and there was Richie. The rumor was that Richie had died after a bar fight. I couldn’t tell immediately if it was true or not. So I decided to just talk.

I asked him “Why not just believe in an afterlife if it would give me comfort.”

“You mean like heaven?”

“I’m not sure..”

“Yeah you are. You mean like an after life. You and your Dad can live there forever. Heaven.”

He was always forceful so I fessed up.

“Sort of.” I said. “Maybe. Yes.”

Richie looked at me. I was afraid he would make fun of me. Richie was the most sarcastic person I have ever met in my life and I come from Brooklyn where people are so sarcastic that sometimes it is years before anybody says anything for real. Once when Rocky was out I asked Richie if his birthday party was going to be going to Rocky. He responded “No!” and he meant yes.

Richie answered. “It’s a good idea but it won’t work.”

“Why not, Richie?”

“’cause your fantasy of death is a way of shutting your eyes to the reality of what life is. Your life is by definition the life of a mortal. If you imagine it going on forever you are not experiencing it. If you try to imagine a fake immortal life you will miss your real life. Cause life and death are two words for the same reality.”

“What’s that reality, Richie?”

He looked at me and considered for a moment. “Dife.”

Richie went into the subway and the doors started to close. I called after him “What if I think of my life now as unbounded, and my life in the future as limitless, so it’s not a fantasy. Then I can experience the afterlife this very moment. Maybe?”

“Oh that’s fine” said Richie as the doors closed. “That’s called Leth.”


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