Not Quite Heaven
by J. E. Sandoval
Saturday, April 21, 2012
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A poem I scratched out at the request of a friend.
We met when we were six, your family had moved in.
It was June, and when we met, a friendship did begin.
In the summer we had fun. We played and rode our bikes.
Little did we know, we'd both made friends for life.
You'd wonder why on Saturday nights out late I could not stay.
I had to get up early for church on the mornings of Sunday.
As we grew up together, you were almost like my brother.
But in college we lost touch, I went to one, and you another.
Then when I was an adult, divorced and in much pain.
On Facebook, if figured what the heck, I searched upon your name.
As luck would have it, the first result, my old friend I had found.
And better yet, you lived so close, one mile outside my town!
We got together that night for drinks at my favorite local bar.
We talked, we laughed, we reminisced, in life, we'd both gone far.
Your wife had divorce you also, and left you in a fog.
You also were living alone, except for Max your dog.
For the next few years, we'd get together several times a week.
We'd talk about anything in the world, just of one subject, we did not speak.
We'd have some beer and talk politics, we'd solve the problems of the nation.
Then one night, I'd drank too much, and I asked you about your salvation.
You laughed and told me you didn't believe, but you respected how I feel,
But alas, you said, when it comes to God, all that stuff isn't real.
And look at you, you said with a smile, you hypocritical punk!
Your church says drinking is evil, yet you sit before me drunk.
I explained that the bible taught that moderate drinking was fine.
After all, Christ was called a drunkard, and he changed water into wine!
Never again did we speak of it, for I didn't want to offend.
And we'd get together, laugh and drink, the fun would never end.
Alcohol, that double edged sword, the source of fun and strife,
How ironic, with how much closer it brought us, that it would take you from my life.
It happened a cool November eve, you were taking your dog Max for a walk.
You had texted me that when you were done, we would get together and talk.
But a driver who had too much to drink thought he'd try his luck
to make it home okay, but instead it was you, my friend, who his car had struck.
I got there as soon as I heard, Max whimpered by your side.
The paramedics tried their best, but alas, my friend, you died.
The funeral was large, since you were taken far too soon.
All I could think about was the time we met in that youthful month of June.
Your wake was nice, fun but sad, of our antics I would boast.
My friend, you will be missed, I said in the closing toast.
I took in Max, your faithful hound. He lived his life all through.
But I was never his master. That honor belonged to you.
He died years later, sad and content, peaceful in his sleep.
And now at the rainbow bridge, and eternal vigil will he keep.
I also lived my full days, but it was never quite the same.
And I was truly ready on that night the reaper came.
I was in my eighties, when I felt the icy touch of death,
But things weren't quite as I expected the other side of that last breath.
I stood before a throne of judgement on atop what seemed a cloud,
Every sin that I'd committed in full was read aloud.
I braced myself for final judgment when a lamb who had been slain,
Spoke "this one belongs to me, for my book contains his name."
I asked him about you, my friend, about your final lot.
The lamb looked sad, "I'm sorry, my child. For your friend, I knew him not."
Heaven, more glorious than I could ever know.
There was no death, no sickness, no pain, not even rain or snow.
I am always so comfortable, I neither sweat nor shiver.
I eat the fruit from the trees of life, and drink from the crystal river.
Other wonders and amazing beauties are beyond my words to tell,
But every now and then, I'm sad, because my best friend burns in hell.
They say God wipes away every tear, and I know for fact that's true .
I've shed a lot throughout the years. It's not quite heaven without you.