Excerpt: Chapter 106, pg. 273-4
I’ve had my gripes about this side. Coffee and cigarettes were high
on my list. I figured that after a lifetime of aggravation, God the Father,
His Son, or one of the hundreds of saints I’ve “adored” or the souls in
purgatory I beseeched over the years could’ve taken pity on me when I
came over and at least thrown a few stubbed-out butts and some stale decaf
my way. But that’s not the way it is. And I suppose it’s not the way it ever
was. Nothing’s easy around here. I’m still mad that this isn’t the heaven
they taught me about –– the one I was promised –– when I was alive. It’s
taken me a long time to come to grips with the way things really work. I
came here expecting life to be a piece of cake. After all, I made novenas.
I made sacrifices. Never missed Mass even on holy days of obligation. I
thought I earned Heaven a thousand times over. Boy, was I in for a rude
awakening. You think it’s tough where you are? That’s nothing. Things
are a thousand times tougher on this side. Especially for someone who
doesn’t know the ropes.
I was sold a bill of goods, that’s for sure. When I was on your side, I
never had a problem getting people to do things for me. I could always
persuade some handsome buck to help me with my suitcase when I was
flying north for a vacation. Or rile my kids up enough to get them to drop
what they were doing and come running. Around here? Forget about
anybody waiting on you. Believe me, I can attest to that. There’s no use
in begging for favors, either. Or crying the blues when you don’t get what
you want. Take it from me, it’s just a big waste of energy. Around here,
everybody’s got important things to do, and listening to you whine and
carry on isn’t one of them. Still, that didn’t stop me from griping that
they could at least offer a few services to people like me who were sick
and tired of it all and just couldn’t do things for themselves. For pity’s
sake, even in Florida you can call up and order groceries and they’ll deliver
them right to your door. And for a nice tip, they’ll put them away for you,
too. The way I looked at it, it wouldn’t have killed them to help an old lady
out. But that’s not the way it is in this so-called heaven. If you want something,
you have to do it for yourself. It’s not the way I’d run things, but nobody asked me.
What’s big around here is the word create. I swear, if I heard that word
once, I heard it a million times. I heard it so many times that I wanted to
spit. But my attitude didn’t change a thing. Create –– that’s the main idea
in this place. And believe me, you can’t avoid it. Whatever you want, you
have to create it for yourself. It’s dog-hard work, and you have to do it.
They call it aligning yourself with specific conditions to create your soul’s
desire. Sounded like gobbledygook. A corny line from a Disney movie.
Take it from somebody who knows: this business of creating for yourself is
no picnic. It’s too hard. And I was too tired.
That’s why I decided to get back at them and their dumb ideas. So I
played dead –– dead-as-a-doornail dead. Trust me, playing dead doesn’t get
you anywhere. It doesn’t even get you any sympathy. I should’ve listened
to the grapevine on that one. Because unlike my kids, nobody came running.
If you play dead, everybody assumes you are and leaves you be until
you decide to get up and live again. That was a tough lesson. It took me a
while to come to the conclusion that I could play dead for all eternity if I
wanted and nobody would try to coax me out of it. I could’ve been lying
there in the dirt, cursing all the action going on around me and holding
on to being pissed about not having coffee and cigarettes, and nobody
would bat an eye. I didn’t understand why having a temper tantrum didn’t
work –– where I came from, everybody would’ve been hell-bent for election
to help me. Live and learn, that’s what I used to say. Die and learn,
that’s my new motto.