Updated: Jul 2, 2021
It is July 1, halfway between Father’s Day past and my late husband’s upcoming birthday. He still makes himself known to me. A somewhat unusual name, Lloyd, pops up in myriad and diverse places in books, movie credits, the name of a funeral home I would pass on my way to ordination classes, and now regular messages through different mediums at Sunday Spiritualist services.
Before all that, Lloyd seemed to make his first--and grand--entrance at his memorial service. Here’s what happened.
During his last hospital stay, Lloyd wrote about the mystery of life after death. It was his final essay in a small collection of writings which was to be titled, “What I Really Think about during Sermons.”
He recalled the Easter stories and the resurrection stories that spoke about light, but he could not believe that “just sitting forever in a bath of brightness that obscures everything” was all there would be. He typed:
The other side is real, I’m sure of this. But it’s easy to make a lot of bad guesses about what’s there. And the light is deceiving, drawing us into a world of immense glory, sitting, awestruck, bathed in light for all eternity, but not knowing what you might see, if only the light would fade.
After developing his ideas and offering examples from his life and from religious traditions, he concluded with a Gospel story that he believed offered clues about what we might see on the other side if we could get past the light. The story was the one about eating fish by the lake in Galilee. The essay concludes with these paragraphs:
And this guy shows up and, like any good fisherman would do, yells at them out on the lake to move their boat 200 yards to the left. Better fishing there. They did, got a big catch, came back to shore, and set up a nice fire to cook some, fresh. Have a nice meal by the lake to rest up and relax. The guy joins them. Their friend. Yeshua. Joshua. The Greeks translated it into Jesus. God saves. The same in any language.
What if, instead of a world of light, we step into another part of life? Another place as real as this one… not more real… as real. A place where we all participate in the one world that we’re all part of. A good place. A peaceful place if we have achieved peace. A place where there is enough rest. There are clues that some of that is true.
And what if, from the other side, we could easily step from there into this side, help our friends fish from the lake, have a nice meal with them, have a little chat, and then easily step away? I would like that place so much more than just sitting forever in a bath of brightness that obscures everything. I would like to have breakfast by the lake.
Lloyd made it clear that his complete essay was to be read at his memorial service as well as at his mass. He died five days later.
The story does not end here, with the best yet to come. Perhaps like the best that may come after we ‘die’.
A memorial service celebrated his life in music and in words, including sharing stories by those in attendance. Finally, it came time for one of his actor friends to read his final essay to comply with his wishes. Keep in mind that in the essay Lloyd speculates that we too, like Jesus, might be able to step into this world to be with friends and then step away to the other world.
The reading of his essay proceeded although not without a stumble or two. Even seasoned actors may be choked with emotion. Then, at the precise moment the last word of the essay was spoken, a bi-fold door along the wall behind the podium flew open and the room was flooded with bright white light.
The startled assembly emitted an audible, collective gasp. The presiding clergy quipped, “Yup. That’s Lloyd.” Many in the room nodded in agreement. Others from among his theatre colleagues remarked how grand an entrance he had made. A few shed silent tears. For the friends and family present, Lloyd had stepped back into this world.
Lloyd had asked, “When we die, is that it? Or do we live on in some way? The answer that the Resurrection gives is that we live on. But it doesn’t really say in what way.”
Perhaps our experience at that memorial service offered one answer—at least for us: that there is something more than “just light”…that we indeed might “step into another part of life… Another place…not more real… but as real” as this one… and that we might, even for just a moment, step back into this world from the other.
Additional stories, gleaned from interviews I conducted, are shared in my #1 bestselling book, The Courage to Care: Being Fully Present with the Dying.
Have you had or know of someone who had an experience after someone died? I would love to hear your story and will keep all replies confidential. Please email me at Linda@thecouragetocare.com .