In Memoriam Heather Ann Whetzel- Bissegger 3/1/79 ~ 1/26/09 Today is Heather's birthday, her third in heaven after passing from ALS at the ridiculous age of twenty-nine. We try imagining a thirty-second birthday in heaven, but it's probably not too different from any other day. It's heaven - if they could do anything special to improve your birthday, they'd do it every day. We hope Heather will read this. It's encouraging that it appears not only in The Tribune, but also in The Deseret News, since we know the latter to be the paper of record in heaven, and the only paper God reads. Maybe He'll rustle His copy toward Heather and say, in His booming but kindly voice, "There's a thing in here about you." If it's any sort of heaven at all, Heather has slept late. Maybe the spirits of the righteous dead don't need sleep. But it's hard to conceive of a heaven that would be one to her where sleeping till 10:30 isn't only permitted, but applauded. No amount of gold construction and lilting of harps could substitute for this. After she's fully awake and has stretched and fluttered her wings, we imagine a big breakfast. Pancakes on most mornings, we think. Of course Heather is a spirit, and so can eat only spirit pancakes. Yet because she occupies the same physical dimension as the spirit pancakes, we assume her spirit body takes them with the same joy that her physical body took regular pancakes, densities of matter being equivalent and so forth. There must also be a spirit pig gliding about. He floats down and offers his side as a renewable source of perfectly crisp bacon for diners to peel off. This is not painful to the pig, and in fact is a delight to him. It's his heaven, too, remember. You can also remove sausage patties from certain spots on his anatomy, but Heather always preferred bacon. Heather pats his head thankfully, and he oinks a happy oink before flying away. Next must come volleyball. In mortality, Heather was a college player and then a coach, and she achieved a level of mastery of the game. But she couldn't have imagined the advantages of wings on the volleyball court. Heather's only challenge is to avoid profanity, which was always a weakness during intense competition. She still slips up occasionally, provoking glares and threats from angel referees. Heather's only two years into this, though, and she's making progress. Finally, in the evenings, Heather returns to her penthouse to a DVR loaded with her favorite reality shows, including The Bachelor, Project Runway, American Idol, and The Hills. Sometimes these are heavily edited for compliance with celestial broadcast standards. But the real annoyance to Heather is that, as a heavenly being, she already knows the final outcomes of these and all TV shows. Suspense is delicious to her, and she hates knowing in advance what happens. Slowly she's adapting. She's beginning to find pleasure in watching the dramas play out for their own sake, despite the liability of knowing the end results. Knowing Heather, part of any day is devoted to lobbying Our Lord to revise certain long-settled divine policies. She'd like to see dining out on Sundays no longer discouraged, for instance. Her sweetness and charm are irresistible. They may yet prevail even on Almighty God to reconsider some of these side issues. But as for first order heavenly principles - kindness, love, tolerance, forgiveness, charity - Heather has no need to press for reforms. In life, she was in near perfect alignment with heaven on these. And so she must feel very at home there.
Published in The Salt Lake Tribune on Mar. 1, 2011.