When we die, we are reduced to our real selves. We die into who we really are. In Heaven, we have the expanded intelligence of instant recognition such that we do not speak with the lips nor even necessitate a name. Our "masks" are no longer. We lose the facade we wore to work. We lose the mask that was fashioned by others. We lose the masks we wore in front of particular family members. We lose the front that we put on for strangers, the mask with the false smile, the mask that looked like love when there was indifference (or even dislike). We lose the mask of pretense. We are reduced to spirit -- or better said, elevated to the real essence of how God made us. We can hide nothing. If there has been goodness there is happiness because there is closeness to God and if there is falsity this must be shed before entrance into Heaven (which is why there is purgatory).
We get to Heaven when we balance Truth and Love.
A positive ending?
Years ago, back in the early 1990s, when I was speaking in many churches about The Final Hour, I was invited to spend the night at a monastery in the rolling hills of Kentucky called Gethsemane Farms. This is a unique place first because it is Trappist (they kept strictly to themselves, even doing their own dental work, by following a how-to book) and secondly because it had been home to the famous monk-writer, Thomas Merton (also fascinating: they made fruitcakes, Bourbon fudge, and cheese).
For many decades, Trappist monks were under a strict vow of silence. In fact, one of the monks with whom I had breakfast told me he'd been Merton's room-mate for thirty-five years but had never exchanged words with him! They prayed and meditated and read -- and learned (you learn nothing when you are doing the talking).
That was interesting, but what I remember the most was the account of a far less well-known and in fact regular monk whom the brothers described as this extremely short, pleasant, happy-go-lucky fellow, always making people feel good, always friendly.
Always joyful. In my mind, I formed the picture of a Mickey Rooney-type figure. Anyway: I was told that toward the end of his days this monk lapsed into a deep coma; knowing he was nearing the end, fellow brothers held a vigil at his bedside.
I don't recall how many hours or days he was in a coma, but they said after a lengthy period of total silence -- incommunicado -- there came a point when -- to their astonishment -- the monk suddenly woke from the coma, sat up, looked at them with a huge smile on his face, called out, "Ciao!" and then fell back to unconsciousness (and in fact death). He died in the joy he had always radiated.
It's certainly the way I'd like to go!
Ego will weigh you down. Forsake pride. That is the harshness. Danger!
Be little -- like the monk.
In the little is the big.
Die happy and you die into who you really are.
Ciao is Italian, of course, for "hello, "hi," "goodbye," or "bye."
Perhaps we might prefer Arrivederci ("see you later").
With humility we find the best afterlife where there is hello but not goodbye because we see each other forever.