His Heaven


Jack Kern

The time we have on earth is shorter than one would think, which is where heaven comes in.

Jack Kern, Staff Writer

You aren’t a man of words.

There were always those moments in the car when I would ask you something, and it would take a while to muster up a response.

Sometimes, there wouldn’t be one at all.

About eighty percent of our conversation takes place in the car.

It’s one of the few places where we have what mom calls, “bonding time” together.

I remember when I was seven, and I told you that I was afraid of going to Hell.

You may not recall, as it was so long ago.

The reply stumbled out of you slowly, much like how you would get out of bed in the morning. The grizzled moans and grunts could always be heard throughout the house.

“Son, you have nothing to worry about. There is no way you’ll end up in Hell. You’re the best kid I know.”

As simple and uninspired as those words may have been, they stuck with me.

I asked you what Heaven was like, to which you simply responded with three words:

The perfect place.

My initial interpretation of that statement was that heaven was the ideal place for each person, specifically, like everyone had their own personal Heaven.

To this day, I’m not sure if I understood it correctly, but that’s the way I like to imagine it. So thanks, dad.

I lay alone in my room that night, thinking about what my heaven would be like.

Looking back on it, it probably would’ve involved unlimited time to watch cartoons and drink apple juice, for the seven-year-old me.

But times have changed, old man.

For starters, well, you got old.

The mornings after church when I would ask you to race me to the car and you always winning are long gone.

Now, if I asked you to race me to the car after church, your response would probably be something along the lines of, “What the hell are you talking about?”

The days of being woken up early in the morning to come downstairs and play videogames with you have passed.

The time has flown away like that airplane came off the landing gear in route to Disney world, and my ears starting hurting so much that I started to freak out, and you had to calm me down as the people in the row over stared.

It’s flown off like the kites we flew on the beach, and like your interest in returning there due to your dislike of the sand.

And guess what, old man? I’ve kept that idea about heaven present in my mind ever since that day in the car.

I sometimes think about other people’s heavens now, more than my own.

For example, Mom’s would involve an infinite amount of coffee and Words with Friends opponents, as well as the ability to redesign the house as many times as she liked on a whim. It may or may not involve all of her old cats back, and to relive that night on grandpa’s farm (you probably know which one).

I thought about what your heaven would be like.

It would look a lot like the place you spent your youth. Family was always the most important thing to you, by far. I could always tell. The genuine happiness you felt when you were surrounded by your family members was always evident to everyone, I’m sure.

Your heaven would involve reliving all of those small conflicts with your brothers, just watching as all of the memorable moments with grandma before she was the sweet old lady I’ve come to know.

Your heaven would involve feeling the way you did at church this last Easter. I’ll admit, that was the first time I’d seen you cry in a long time.


And one day, old man, when we’re both in our heavens, I’ll make sure to visit yours every now and again to toss that crappy foam football back and forth with you. To have more “bonding time” with you.

And whenever I could, I’d send you envelopes full of all the change that would fall in between the couch cushions from you back pockets.

I’m not sure if it would be heaven for me without the remnants of yours and mom’s existence all over the place.

Heaven would be much less charming without them. But above all,

It wouldn’t be “The Perfect Place”.