There is an immense sense of freedom that has emerged from becoming an atheist. I no longer feel compelled to nod my head in agreeance with nonsense. There are no rules to live by under threat of eternal fire if I slip up intentionally or otherwise.
A loss of boundaries does not necessarily imply an automatic decent into a chaotic existence full of perversions, violence and inevitable self-destruction. If anything I feel compelled to be a better person.
After all, I have to forge my own path in life. There are no “signs” or “destiny” or “forbidden zones” that will guide me. My mind must be sharpened to both opportunities and pitfalls around me. No “miracles” will rescue me if I fall. No “spirit” will wipe away the tears.
Knowing full well that most will shun me for not donning the fleece of the familiar flock all the steps in the sand will be mine and mine alone. My foot will fall where I place it, steady or otherwise.
I choose to continue to look upon the world with kindness and help others when I can. Not because a creed tells me I must at least attempt to be a decent human being (whether truly desiring it or not) but because I want to have a good, happy, healthy and productive life and I wish no less for those around me. If I have something they don’t metaphorically speaking, I’ll be glad to help them get it and I assume with hope that they will do the same in return whether they be religious or not.
I no longer have the safety net of being able to confess all the mess ups and wipe the slate clean. If I make my sully my slate in any way it is mine and mine alone to clean. No one else is going to absolve me carte blanche no matter the severity of the matter in exchange for me pledging allegiance to a myth.
It has been rather difficult to do anything but cry the last several months. My father has died.
My father and I were as close as a father and daughter could ever be. He was the center of my universe and I of his. I am his only child.
The nurse kept telling me to reach under the blanket and hold his hand. I did it once and refused to do it again. Why? Because his hand was cold and there was no motion when I touched it. Never would my father not grasp onto my hand when I reached for him. I knew then that although he was still technically alive, he was gone.
It wasn’t at all like the myths and movies you grow up with. There were no poignant last words – he was on a ventilator and could not speak. His eyes never closed even after death – they were frozen in a lifeless stare his mouth wide open so desperate to grasp even one last breath. There was no sense that he was seeing some great bright light and that peace was at hand. There was nothing but pain.
Per his wish he was cremated. My beloved father has been reduced to nothing but a pile of ash. Upon looking at the container it confirmed what I always suspected – there is no God and there is no afterlife. Dad has not come to me in dreams or given me “signs” to let me know all is well. It’s not like I haven’t desperately sought these things. They simply aren’t there. If he was truly in some kind of Heaven he would reach out to my mother and I – nothing would stop him. No friends, it is as much a shock and heartbreak to me as to anyone to come to the stark realization that we simply disintegrate into an organic mass as if we’d never been.
The neighbors came by once to express condolences – the expected thing to do. We’ve never seen them since. Mum and I had frozen TV dinners for Thanksgiving and sat crying under the tree at Christmas. They did their “duty” their lives moved on. Only ours are frozen in grief forever.
People my mother worked with were annoyed there wasn’t a funeral despite the fact none of them knew him. They felt cheated of not getting a half day off work.
Several said they were “praying” for us. Well muttering to an invisible friend in the privacy of your home or place of worship means nothing to a mother and daughter sitting alone day after day wondering how to go on. It might put a gold star on your “good deeds” log but such acts of convenience mired in self interest do nothing to comfort those who oftentimes just want to talk to someone for five minutes who actually cares.
I’m so tired of people saying “I’m sorry for your loss.” I feel like completing the sentence for them – “but I don’t really care because I didn’t know him and even if I did, well he’s gone now so what use is there in dwelling on the past?” But to me the world lost one of the kindest people ever and so in my eyes it isn’t just “my loss” it is a loss for those who he touched and those he would have given more time – in short everyone.