The Valley of the Shadow of Death: The Big Question

When Hugh died, I was left to process some pretty heavy stuff.  As a result, it nearly killed me as well — had I not reached out to the appropriate channels when I did.  Hopefully this explains the vile posts and the hole I fell in several months ago which I am only now finding myself slowly but surely crawling out from.

When my mother passed back in May of 2000, it was a matter of course.  You see, she had a very rare form of terminal cancer that was only held fast by a unique and risky type of procedure.  Because of this intervention, we knew that each day we had with her could easily be the last.  This, of course, cast a pall on everything except her.

It was when she died that a very troubling, disturbing and very real scenario presented itself; a scenario I’m sure not too many people have had the pleasure of observing.  Here’s what it was:

My mother was a devout Catholic.  Her faith was palpable.  It was by God’s will that she had survived each and every day.  She also had enough Near Death Experiences walking with Jesus himself in heaven to galvanize her love of the Holy Trinity beyond any shadow of any doubt.  Her faith became stronger each day she woke up alive.

My father on the other hand is a militant atheist, well, except for those times when he conjures God just long enough to deliberately blaspheme Him out of spite.  If there is a god, there is no more hatred anywhere on this earth than in my father’s heart for God.  My dad would say the most unbelievably blasphemous stuff I have YET to hear ANYONE say ANYTHING like it in person, on TV, in the news or in the movies.

“Animate that clay, and then promptly SMITE it because it did exactly what you knew it would do because you’re God and you know everything.”  That’s the tamest one I can think of.  (This line of thinking, incidentally, leads to some very disturbing revelations when you apply it to, say, a war, or a particularly brutal dictator.)

My mother’s love for my father was literally unbelievable.  My father’s love for my mother was equal if not moreso.  He belied a profoundly tender and gentle nature frequently with a cantankerous exterior.  When he tended to her afflictions, there was no question you were in the presence of an ancient soul — whether you believed in reincarnation or not — who truly, and honestly, and deeply understood exactly what love really was.

I do believe the friends I have left can attest to my testimony above.  Now, let’s begin.

My mom dies. Splat. Now what? Ask yourself logically WHAT MUST NECESSARILY HAPPEN?

We assume that my mom goes to heaven.  Yay.  But what happens to my dad?  Remember, we’re not dealing with a passive agnostic here, we’re dealing with a deliberate blasphemer who will NEVER accept God or Jesus or Allah or Shiva or whatever, simply on the basis that all human suffering exists because of whatever you want to believe created us.

We must assume that he goes to hell, right?  Now think about this: If we assume my mother is in heaven and we assume that she loved my dad, then we must assume she is in heaven AND she is waiting for her beloved.

If we assume that they are honest in heaven, then, when my dad passes, my mother is going to get The Bad News. “Sorry, your husband isn’t coming..”  Now, how can heaven continue to be heaven for my mom?  If you knew you’d never see your beloved again — and worse — knew that they were going to roast for all eternity, what kind of heaven would that be for you?

They can’t just conjure a simulacrum of my father for her benefit either, because that would be deception, a tool of Satan.  If they do conjure a phantom for her, then God does the devil’s work.  Period.  Either that, or get accustomed to lies being “a thing” in heaven.

Oh, but God’s love is so encompassing, you’ll forget all your life’s loves for His Eternal Glory will burn away everything you’ve ever loved down here on earth.  Well, then don’t bother loving anyone — it won’t matter in the long run, after all.  And this logical argument necessarily destroys the sanctimony of marriage.  Be a dick to your fellow man, so long as your love for God is true all will be right.  No wonder the world is in such sorry shape.  There is no incentive for human beings to be good to one another following this logic and it would  therefore be reasonable to assume that this premise becomes a fundamental argument when we justify the pain we inflict upon one another.

And if they let my dad in (remember, miracles are God’s work, after all) for my mom’s benefit, then he gets off on a technicality.  You can hate on God all you want, just make sure someone out there really, really loves you.  The logic here hurts my brain.

And finally, my dad cannot be in heaven AND hell at the same time.  This one is important because it illustrates religion’s capacity to adhere to logic.

As we can clearly see, The Whole Fucking Thing begins to simply fall apart.  Everything gets called into question and any sense religion could offer utterly disintegrates under this scenario.  Permanently.  This isn’t some theoretical situation I conjured out of the aether just for the hell of it, like that stupid “can God make a rock so heavy he can’t lift it?” thing; this is a very real scenario that I was forced to process when my mom died.

What all this essentially boils down to, is that if there is some kind of God, then this entity is ultimately unknowable until time of death.  And even then, we still may not know.

I stuffed it in the back of my head and ignored it for the most part.  That is, until my best friend’s step-mom died.  Then I had to process it again to a degree until I could beat it back down to a point where I could comfortably ignore it. 

And then Hugh died.

But this time, I had begun to notice, that if there is a God, he seems intent on culling the gems from this earth with a ferocity and efficiency equal only to his propensity to replace them with no end of awful, miserable, wretched people.  It’s as if the genuinely decent, beautiful people are not supposed to be here…like, they managed to slip through some kind of perverse quality assurance team whose sole purpose is to ensure people like that don’t make it here.  The rest of us are varying degrees of borderline, but they seem to be made to be promptly undone, like an editor swiftly backspacing over a typo.  The moment decency is detected, the gremlins are dispatched post haste.  And if you’re a good person reading this, congratulations! They haven’t found you … yet.

I’m beginning to find my own meaning in things now.  But they are coming from within…from within my heart and my mind.  And I am beginning to accept that when the questions matter, and I mean really matter, we simply cannot know. 

That is something I can have faith in.

For anyone who has read this far, and/or cares, I hope I can be better understood with what I have said.  There is a reason for all things, and there are reasons why I am who I am.

I will hopefully get back to posting regularly scheduled derp.  For all those who have hung in there with me…thanks.


It’s All About Attitude

I came to a rather profound conclusion today, of which I will get to shortly, because this one requires a little bit of context.

So I decided to get up and out for a little spot of exercise, by taking one my little nature walks down the street. After all, if I am to keep my cholesterol under control, I’ve got to get back to what I was doing before my world turned upside-down.

When I got to the park, I took a little breather on a bench that happens to be one of my pre-determined rest stops. As I was sitting there, letting the sun wash over me, my thoughts turned to Hugh. The next thing I knew, I was talking to dead people, my mother included. So, I let the little exercise play out – I got up and began walking again on a rather hidden, secluded path behind the actual park – where I would have the privacy to talk to myself, er, dead people.

I told them both that if ever there was a time in my life when I needed help, now is that time. I’m facing many different challenges in my life today, some known, some private. I told them I needed their help, their strength, their attitude and wisdom if I am to overcome these challenges. I gently reminded them both that I don’t recall ever asking for assistance from the great beyond.

I then came to a fork in the path behind the park.

I chose to turn around and head back, as I didn’t want to overdo it. As I was heading back upon the twisty little path, and pondering the hereafter (and asking Hugh and my mom for any sign), I came across an older gentleman who was out walking his dogs. Up ahead, he had sat down on the only bench on the trail to rest. As I shuffled past him, he asked if I was counting my footsteps. I told him no, I was instead talking to dead people. “Ahh, sorry to hear that.” he replied.

He seemed friendly enough so I decided to sit down next to him and his two dogs. We started talking. We talked about this and that, the absurdity of life, the transient nature of reality, and so on. He had mentioned something about how little control we have over anything, and how drastically rude people can affect us, and then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, an epiphany struck my brain.

“Eureka!” I exclaimed.

Attitude is the only thing we as human beings can truly claim to have absolute control over. If someone is awful to us, and we respond in kind, we effectively relinquish what tiny piece of control we truly have over to someone else. As if enough of life wasn’t out of our control, we invariably give up THE ONE THING WE DO have control over. To put it another way, say you have 1,000 dollars tied up in various assets and things. But, you only have control over 10 of those dollars and they are in your pocket right now. If someone comes up to you and kicks you in the shins because they suck, would you respond by giving them 8 of your 10 dollars?

Of course not. But that’s exactly what we’re doing when we submit control of our attitude over to others, who, of all people, are the least deserving of it. We’re allowing awful people to take control of the only thing we have control over.

We allow them to negatively affect our attitudes. And the last thing the world needs right now is more negativity. I’m not saying to go out and buy the jerk who cut you off lunch. What I’m gently suggesting, is perhaps we should maintain control over the last bastion of what we can rightfully claim as ours: our attitudes.

Maybe that was Hugh’s secret. Maybe that was my mom’s secret. I think they refused to give up the one thing they knew they had absolute control over — their attitudes. I told this to my park-bench friend, and with a furrowed brow, and upturned finger, he said “You know, I think you just might be onto something there.”

As we parted ways, I thanked him, and told him that I was walking away from the encounter a richer person.

“As am I” he said.

Serendipity? Coincidence? Synchronicity? You be the judge. All I can tell you is that I’ve never lost a friend before, and I’ve never walked around a park talking to dead people before, and I’ve never sat on a park bench talking to a complete stranger before. Statistically, perhaps it was time for all those things to finally happen all at once…

…or, maybe not.