Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have not lived in the country and enjoyed a good country meal. Perhaps they have been affected by McDonald's or Taco Bell. They do not know the taste of fresh fruit and herbs and vegetables grown in the country. They can not think outside the bun. But there is a world, an entire universe, out there to enjoy.
Yes, Virginia, there is a heaven. It exists as certainly as love and generosity and imagination exist. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no heaven. No place that one could look to for total happiness, total satisfaction in a life well lived. Virgina there was a movie awhile ago called "Black Robe" in which a Jesuit Priest is told by a young Frenchman that the Algonquin Indians have an afterworld. "They believe that in the forest at night the dead can see. The souls of men hunt the souls of animals." The Jesuit Priest asks "Is that what they told you? It is childish." And the young Frenchman replies, "Is it harder to believe in than Paradise where we all sit on clouds?"
Virginia, nobody sees heaven until they're there. And once you're there you know it as sure as life itself. It may be your first ride on a bicycle. Or your first kiss. Or maybe it's something you won't ever experience but something that you always anticipate. Something in your mind that you imagine. That's why your imagination is so important, Virginia.
For me, Heaven can be an emotion, a feeling, or an experience. Just last night, while preparing dinner, I walked out to the garden next to our barn where the horses were munching their evening meal, and picked some fresh Swiss Chard. A whole shopping bag full of fresh Swiss Chard. I brought the bag into the house and cleaned each leaf, put them in a pot, and steamed them. Virginia, when my wife and I ate that fresh steamed Swiss Chard, that was Heaven!
No Heaven! Thank goodness there's a heaven. And it will be there forever. A thousand years from now, Virgina, nay, ten times ten thousand years form now there will be a heaven, whether it's an actual experience, a location - such as a forest, or clouds, or anything your mind can imagine heaven to be, it will be there.