Barbara Read was in for quite the surprise when she got to Heaven.
It wasn’t that she was dead. Barbara saw that coming a mile away. (Cancer. Breast at first; then, everywhere.)
Nor was Barbara surprised by the existence of heaven itself. Belief was bred into her since birth, and Barbara, a good-hearted person who followed the golden rule, always just assumed she’d arrive at the Pearly Gates. And she was right!
Barbara now approached the tableau she’d long imagined: downy clouds billowing over a coral horizon; harp-shaped gates twinkling incandescent; and – ah! There’s St. Peter at his golden pulpit, head bent, quill poised above a gilded ledger – just as Barbara imagined!
St. Peter waved Barbara forward without looking up. “Name, please.”
Barbara stood straight-backed and pronounced, “Bar-bara Read,” as if “Barbara Read” should mean something to a saint as great as Peter, or any saint.
“Read, Barbara. Yes. We’ve been expecting you and are quite pleased to have you here…” He slid a fine, slender finger down the page. “In heaven.”
Then he lifted his head – “My heavens!” Barbara cried.
This St. Peter was younger, taller, and far more strapping than the gnarled, stately version in that fresco at parochial school. There, St. Peter was paternal. Here, brawny and broad, with sharp cheekbones, olive green eyes, and bulging biceps, St. Peter was a downright stud!
It was a nice surprise, but not the surprise. That’s still on its way.
“Well, I’m happy to be here,” Barbara gave a coquettish flap. “My hand! It’s – it’s –” Firm, fresh, and pink – there wasn’t a wrinkle, age spot, or IV bruise in sight!
Barbara surveyed the rest of her body – and it was spectacular: Taut breasts pushed against a pink satin blouse; formidable calves below a pencil skirt; waist thick but fit. She again had the heft that made her feel sturdy; again had the robust, lively blonde hair that turned heads on earth – before the chemo stole it.
Here, now, Barbara was supple and youthful. Vibrant and elastic. Gorgeous!
Yes, Heaven was indeed a five-star experience – just as Barbara had imagined.
“Now.” St. Peter raised a rigid finger. “There’s the matter of your husband.”
Knees turned to jelly, Barbara caught herself on the lectern. “M-my husband!?”
This was the surprise.Continue reading