Hey, I'm new to this place, so hi. I joined mainly because I was searching for a place online for I could find a place to talk with other atheists and find support through a crisis I'm going through at the moment.
My mom is in the hospital, she is very sick. Without going into detail, I'll just say she has high chances of dying, so, I'm dealing with a lot of emotions, and uncertainties, and grief right now. And I was prepared for none of this. We never thought this would happen, not now, not to us. She's been sick for awhile, but we thought they would find what was wrong. We thought she was getting better. I'm just, I feel tossed around in a sea of feelings and thoughts and utter shock, as if this isn't my life, this isn't supposed to be. And I don't know what to do.
I was brought up Seventh Day Adventist, taught that if you accept Jesus' "perfect gift of salvation", that when you die, you sleep in the grave until the second coming when the dead shall rise again. I am now free of that religion, which was quite hazardous to my mental and emotional health, not to mention, it was just plain wrong. No child should grow up in fear of the end of the world, but that's a topic for another time.
Anyway, my brain is primed with a different manual. One that says spend your time praying, or be angry at God, even though I know both of these things are entirely useless. But, I spent my childhood one way, and was never prepared for the idea that something like this could happen so soon. I'm not mourning the fact that there is no soul, or no afterlife, at least not now. My mother is not dead yet, and I still have hope, even in the face of a very large, gaping reality. I will probably have to deal with that when the time comes, perhaps I am trying to deny that that matters to me right now, I don't know.
I just feel very isolated, a lone atheist in a sea of Christians praying to a sky god, as if a merciful, loving god would ever allow my mother to suffer like this. I don't get angry when people say they are praying for her, or for me, to me that's like saying my thoughts are with you, that means they care. But I dread the inevitable, the moment when someone mentions God's plan, or Jesus's return, or Heaven and our perfect bodies, and the second coming. I dread this, my teeth grinding together in agony, it would be like rubbing salt in a fresh wound. I know my mother is a Christian, and my family are Christians, and they are entitled to their beliefs and practices, but when I am grieving, and feel so alone, so very alone and misunderstood, it hurts.
We had Mom's funeral today, and I gave the eulogy. After much procrastination, I wrote it at the last minute, this morning, and this is what I read:
The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her. I found that that sentence made a lot of sense to me, not just because all children would mourn the loss of their parents, but because me and my mother’s lives was very close knit. I’ve lived with her my whole life, my whole existence has been partially defined by a parent that whether loved or hated at a particular moment was the other side of my coin.
Losing mom was unexpected. While mom had been sick for a long time, it had never entered my mind that she would die. I guess that’s typical. The mind shields you from possible hardships because acknowledging that they could happen might be too difficult. But it did happen. So here we are. Mourning her, celebrating her life, the words you use don’t matter. What matters is that we are here because we lost my mother and we cared about her. So I thought would share a few things about her from my point of view.
It’s common knowledge, that my mother was a lover of cats. When we moved to Oak Harbor we brought three cats, and later went back for the fourth. I wasn’t even in first grade at the time. Once we moved into our house, and out of Grandma’s house (which was incredibly cramped), we got number five. There are a lot of strays out in my neighborhood, and I ended up catching one. Mother was at first determined not to let her in. But when she pressed her body up against the door in the pouring rain even she couldn’t say no. We’ve had many cats over the years, and they defined my mother as much as anything. Hell, when we rescued two very young kittens from outside our house, and the vet told us to rub on their bottoms so they could go to the bathroom, we did it. For an hour. And it turned out, all we had to do is drop them in a little litter box and they were fine. But how many people are that dedicated to cats? Mom was.
Mom loved to cook, and she was a good cook. Except when she made something weird like zucchini casserole. But she was a good cook and anyone who had even her food Potluck could attest to that. Or her famous cookies. But Mom didn’t just cook for pleasure. There wasn’t a lot of mom could do to help people and she wanted to help people. But she could cook. We never have a lot of money and a lot of times we would run out of money very quickly. The she was determined anyway. If there was someone who was sick or somehow in need, she would make meals for them. I watched her do this even as she was sick, almost up to the last months that she was alive. The only reason she didn’t was because she was too tired to do anything, but knowing her if she could’ve, she would’ve.
Mom was also known for being friendly. She could and would talk to everyone, wherever she went. The store, the bank, the pharmacy, people knew her by name. It would get embarrassing sometimes as a teenager, when she would stop and chat with a complete strange about who knows what, but that’s what made her special. It was strange really. While many people, myself included, would hate to walk up to a stranger and ask something, for any reason, that seemed to be her favorite pastime. It’s how she ended up with so many people knowing her, and caring about her. So I found that while I had to inform her outright friends, people I knew, I had other people to tell as well. When I had to go to the pharmacy, the bank, the stores, the doctor, I had to tell people there too.
It’s the overused cliché that you don’t realize, or appreciate something, or someone, until it’s gone. I suppose that’s true for me, in the case of my mother as well. With death, comes regrets, and questions, and things we want to take back and change, do over, or do again. But I think, that even if my time with Mom had been perfect, it wouldn’t change anything for how I feel. I love my Mom very much. She is a part of me, and I was a part of her. We had been together, never separate long since I was born, and because she is gone so early, I have to finally cut the metaphorical umbilical cord that bound us together, and live without her. It won’t be easy, but life is neither fair nor easy. And I can only do my best to make Mom proud, and myself happy.