A little piece about heaven

There is an overhang in Kellogg, Idaho. It’s where my heart goes when my mind is tired and my body is weak. Every day, during the very few minutes I am in radiation treatment, I close my eyes and I am there.

I stand at the top and beneath me is a depth of fog that always deceives me into thinking I’m standing on clouds. Trees, the most evergreen of greens peak to touch blue skies. I reach down and feel rocks and earth around my feet. They’re smooth granite sandy, a brown sediment trace along my palms. There’s a cool breeze and I wrap myself in my own arms and watch warm golden sun peak over the distance

I go there and I feel alive.

I am alive.

I remember when I first found this place. I was driving to Washington from Illinois and there was a lookout off the side of a mountain pass, a place where gondolas ran the length of the wooded valleys. I sat and finished a cup of coffee on a stone ledge while watching the sun rise. It occurred to me that when I die, I would like my ashes spread there. I don’t know if I believe in heaven, but I at least believe in northern Idaho.

I guess you could call them relaxation techniques? I’ve tried it all lately. Someone gave me a candle. I lit it and nothing happened. Maybe I wasn’t using it right? Was I supposed to throw it at something? I remember when I was in labor with my daughter a few years ago. I held off on pain meds and an epidural before the nurse came to me during contractions and said “here, smell this stick.” Aromatherapy. It stunk.

The incredible anxiety that comes with waiting during this treatment is excruciating. I asked my Oncologist for a hint. Does he think my breast cancer went away? She’s seen so much. In cases like mine, does this seem right? Wait and see. It’s always wait and see.

So I wait, and I see.

I close my eyes and I see the places of perfection that I imagine to be the best places in the world, quiet spots where I can think. I stand on a cliff in Idaho or I sit and look out over the Atlantic on a cold, clear night, only ocean waves around me, stars above me.

Sometimes I think about the plane. In my former life as a flight attendant, I appreciated the perfection that came with the overall uniformity of a Boeing 747. Everything had it’s place. Compartments close neat and tidy. Rows line up. Sometimes, hours into international flights, the aircraft would be tranquil and still. In radiation, when I close my eyes I pretend to hear the subtle sound of recycled air, and see the night sky from an oval porthole style window, the occasional glowing city below me.

It’s not even about escape. Who escapes to a crowded plane for stress relief? It’s about my life. I want to live. I will, I know. I feel like a super hero waving my fist in the air “ha ha you didn’t get me this time! I’ll be back.” Of course, I think that’s more of what the villain would say.

I lay and think about the places I’ve been, the experiences, and how they are uniquely mine. I want them. I saw my 18 month old son running through my yard this past weekend and it occurred to me that I want this life. I want grass stains and smiles. I’ll take tears and tired. We spend so much time lamenting where we are, that we forget to be somewhere.

So life is hectic with radiation, and stressful and exhausting and strange. My new home decor can only best be described as “there appears to have been a struggle” with a bedroom theme of “medical claims and paperwork” but I’m here, and when I go away it is to these places seeded in my loft of memory. It is to my version of heaven, and fascinating enough, is the realization that my heaven is here on earth.


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Sara Dorner is a labor representative and community activist living and working in her hometown of Rockford, Illinois. Her two young children keep her busy and make life fun!

7 thoughts on “A little piece about heaven”

  1. You are simply great with your deep simplicity.
    I love each detail you “paint” in your description.
    A warm hug from Italy!

  2. “We spend so much time lamenting where we are, that we forget to be somewhere. ” A beautiful reminder to all of us. Much love and light to you on your journey.

  3. Great post, and I agree that our heaven can be here on earth, as that term can take on many meanings.

    I also believe in “Heaven”, speaking of things in the spiritual sense. In the religion that I profess and belong to, the term heaven refers to a few different actual places/realms listed below, but the main thing that I want to point out is that our heaven here on Earth can indeed be perpetuated beyond the grave. Thank you for your posts that are always meaningful and thought-provoking 🙂

    1. The Spirit World, which is actually here on earth as well, is where our spirit goes when we die where we rest from earthly labors, and help in God’s work while we await the Second Coming of Christ. (1Peter 3:18-20; Alma 40—Book of Mormon)

    2. The Degrees of Glory as explained by Paul the apostle, which we will each inherit one upon our final judgement. We believe that family relationships are perpetuated beyond the grave for those who obtain the Celestial degree. (1Corinthians 15:40-42; Doctrine & Covenants, sections 76 and 88)

    3. The place where God resides.

  4. You are in my prayers even now, that God will surround you with Himself; His perfect presence comfort and the peace that passes all comprehension. Thankful nothing ever takes Him by surprise. I know He is there for you just as He has been for me in my struggles and pain, of this truth I personally know and testify. ✝️

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