George stared at the urn on the mantle. After thirty-seven years of wedded bliss he was separated from his better half, Claudia forever.

Couples fight. Couples separate. Couples get divorced.

But the ugly finality of death towered high and mighty above all of those situations.

The funeral was held six days ago. Mother Nature seemed to be grieving as strongly as friends and family as the cemetery was bathed simultaneously in tears and heavy rainfall.

How could one not grieve? How could someone not miss the twinkling eyes and the alluring smile that granted unlimited access to any and all to her heart?

George thought back to the day of his wedding. Claudia’s smile lighted up the otherwise dimly lit church and her shiny, white satin dress seemed to leave a trail of piety as the end dragged behind her feet.

Even the flowers seemed to find their palette of colors fading in comparison as the bride-to-be’s complexion seemed to encompass a rainbow of love.

After the ceremony, Grandpa Saul had remarked how Claudia looked like “an angel descending from heaven to give our family a new dimension of mirth, hitherto unheard of.”

George and Claudia had always talked about renewing their vows.

It was so like Claudia to want to repeat her vows over and over again, but George?

His reasons were much more selfish.

He longed to show off his wife’s beauty and make her the center of attention as often as he could.

Not with any kind of malice or arrogance but with utmost pride that he was married to a woman who was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside.

Alas, they never got around to it despite plans to hold a ceremony multiple times.

A tear rolled done George’s cheek as he regretted putting his work priorities ahead of everything else.

He thought about the way Claudia would grab a Kleenex, kiss it and wipe his cheeks every time he was upset.

“It’s not the Kleenex drying your tears, it’s my kiss. It longs to feel your skin without any tears crashing the party,” she would say with a soft chuckle.

A million Kleenexes couldn’t dry the tears his heart would spill over the separation.

From the day he met her to three children and five grandchildren later, George was hard-pressed to think if they had ever had a fight that lasted more than forty-five minutes.

Even when they did have the occasional argument, Claudia was always the one to take the high road.

Even when she knew she was right, Claudia would entwine her petite fingers in George’s hair and caress it gently saying, “I’m sorry pumpkin. I love you.”

He would never hear that virtuous voice talk to him ever again.

He would never feel the exhilaration of her touch again.

Lost deep in thought, George nearly jumped as he felt a hand on his shoulder interrupting his trip down memory lane.

Catching his breath, George turned around to see his brother Travis with just a hint of a crooked smile.

“Did I scare you?” Travis asked.

“Maybe a little.”

“You looked like you were in a trance.”

George sighed. “I guess so. I mean, you know what she meant to me. I didn’t just love her. I worshipped her.”

The crooked smile on Travis’s face was now symmetrical as he replied, “I know bro. Claudia was something else. They don’t make em’ like her anymore. But we’re late and have to go now.”

“So soon?”

“You know the rules. Newcomers only get ten minutes a week of observation time. If you follow the rules religiously, the time will be increased after three months.

George sighed. I didn’t even get to see her in the flesh! Maybe next time.

He joined hands with Travis as both souls flew back up to heaven.

He had been dead for two weeks but was lucky enough to fly back down so quickly no matter how limited the time was.

When Travis had died two years ago, they had made him wait a month before his first time.

Maybe, just maybe! George thought. This isn’t as bad of a situation as I thought it was.

He smiled at the thought of possibly seeing Claudia in the flesh the next time he could go back. Grandpa Saul was right.

Even being a human being, she was still ten times more beautiful than the angels he had met in heaven!