As a kid, I was pretty sure that Heaven was the shit. I didn't label it "the shit" but I was sure that I wanted to be there as soon as I died. The idea of it seemed superior to anything else: an eternity with nothing to do but talk to other dead people? Nothing was more perfect in my mind. This would be my schedule of one day in Heaven:
Morning: Sleep in until the afternoon. Even as a young girl, I was infatuated with the idea of sleeping in late. Saturday mornings were my designated "Do Not Disturb Under Penalty of a Hissy Fit" days.
Afternoon: Find someone famous and have a discussion about life on Earth. I always imagined myself having a deep and meaningful talk with George Washington ("Did you want to be the first President?") or Christopher Columbus ("Be honest: didn't you get seasick?") - even Simon Peter ("But He warned you about denying him three times! And you still did it!) or Thomas ("Didn't you feel like a moron when you saw His hands and feet?"). With an eternity with those people, I was sure I'd get all of the answers to my numerous questions.
Around the age of twelve, I told my dad what I planned to do in Heaven. He grounded me.
"Do you think that's what Heaven is all about? That it's just about doing whatever you want and sleeping eternity away?"
I explained that it WAS eternity, and I didn't see why I couldn't do with it as I pleased since there was so much time.
"Maybe you're too selfish to go to Heaven."
And there it was: the possibility that I wouldn't go to Heaven.
I also wouldn't be on the phone that week because I was grounded for my selfishness. It was one of the usual punishments that required me to sit in my room, think about what I had done, and read a handful of chapters from the Bible for reinforcement of unselfish thinking. I would have to read Job and Jonah and marinate on the concept of doing things for the Lord rather than for myself.
The more I read, though, the angrier I became at my punishment. Why couldn't I sleep as long as I wanted to in Heaven? What exactly were the requirements and daily agenda of the eternal sleep? When I tried to ask my dad what I should expect in Heaven - should I make it there, of course - he simply stated:
"It's more than just halos and harps."
I had never even mentioned harps. Frankly, I hated the damned things; could you imagine millions of people playing their harps at the same time? That's just asking for a disaster and a migraine. Why would God want that?
Obviously my dad didn't understand me - maybe he wasn't even listening to me. I decided to take my questions to the second highest authority in Biblical matters: my mother.
"How do you know that famous people will be in Heaven? Are they Christians? No one can be sure."
Not only was my post-death fate questioned, now I had to worry about all of the people I had respected for years.