When I was ten years old my Dad who was in the Navy for 20 years got stationed on Midway Island. He was also in the Naval battle of Midway during the Second World War on an aircraft carrier. Midway is a small Island, about 600 acres, the weather was warm, the water was warm, and because of the reef that went around the island there were only very small waves so swimming in the ocean was like swimming in a heated swimming pool. The depth of the water stayed relatively shallow for a long way out because of the reef. There was lots of different kinds of beautiful plants and trees and literally thousands of different types of birds, with the gooney bird being the biggest and most famous. There was about 100 people on the island with only about a dozen kids. There were no cars except a firetruck, an ambulance, and a car for the senior officer. Everybody road bicycles but the island was so small you could walk anywhere in 30 minutes or less. I would get up most mornings before school and walk around the island looking for Japanese fishing balls. They were round heavy glass balls, about the size of a basketball, that Japanese fishermen blew for floats for their fishing nets. They would break free of the nets, and because Midway was in the middle of the Japaneses current they would often end up on Midway’s beach. Midway was a ten-year-old boy’s dream place to live.

Dad left about three months before we did because they hadn’t yet finished the family housing. Mom took us to the Library and we checked out a bunch of books about Midway. As I read all the books and looked at the pictures of Midway I thought of “Swiss Family Robinson,” a book I had recently read, and got so excited about going, I could hardly stand it. It was like a dream and I got very envious of my Dad because he was already there. He wrote lots of letters describing the island, and he made it sound more wonderful than the books I was reading.

The day came for us to leave and I was so excited. On the first leg of the flight to Honolulu I got very airsick. So when we took off for Midway Mom loaded me up with some kind of motion sickness medicine. I promptly fell dead asleep and didn’t wake up until the plane landed. I remember waking up and looking out the window and yelling “we are here, we are here, we are here!”

So, that has become my description of death, “it is like falling asleep on an airplane and waking up in the most beautiful place ever.” We read all about heaven in the Bible, no death, no sickness, no politics, no war, no sin, a body that is better than superman’s, a mind smarter than the most intelligent person on earth, nobody feels anger, or jealous, or resentment, gets hurt feelings. But we have never been there so we get nervous about the unknown. We all have family and friends that are already there but they haven’t sent us any letters. We tend to think that those who die before the age of 99 have been shortchanged by God which is a totally stupid way to think in light of what heaven is like compared to here.

Death is like falling asleep on an airplane and waking up in the most beautiful place imaginable. I am looking forward to my airplane flight with great anticipation.

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