Well it turns out that my religious talk and my visit to Kansas City are somewhat alike, but I don't know where to start. I guess I'll begin with silence.
Silence is an idea that can surround you in the busiest, most hectic times of your life. Silence can soothe the soul, but that is not the silence I speak of tonight. I speak of the silence of god. Mankind has sought for the meaning of life forever, but that is not what I demand of god. I have a much more demanding question. What is the meaning of death? I don't know how many times I asked this of god, but I still hear nothing. Silence does not strengthen my faith. I've been waiting for this answer for eight years, and time has done nothing except dull the memories of my past. I still hear nothing.
I do not think that I have a fear of death, but rather a hatred of death. I don't hate death because it tears our loved ones from us prematurely, but because god does not answer for death. "It was meant to be." Oh, how many times have I heard this excuse? Silence remains my only answer to the real question.
After my mom died, I turned to religion. I was an adamant Christian and I lived my life dedicated to god, but I received no relief from the pains of life. I did not find healing of my wounds. I wasted a year and a half of my life to religion, and I have nothing to show for it except becoming a social loner. Disappointment reigned in my religious life. Disappointment reigns in my attempts at religion now.
The last conversation I had with my mom saddens me even today. I remember it well. She was in the hospital room with my aunt, uncle, cousins, grandma and other relatives and she told me that she felt bad because we would have to celebrate my birthday in the hospital. I knew that she would not live to see my thirteenth birthday. I don't know why I didn't say anything. I just nodded and tried to reassure her that I was okay spending my thirteenth birthday in the hospital. I believe that conversation occured the evening Wednesday, June 18th, 1997. I still don't know how I resisted the tears that so threatened to consume me on that day.
That was the last time I ever talked to my mother. She and I were the best of friends in my life, and I never got to talk to her privately. I don't remember when I last talked to her alone, but I never talked to her alone during the four days when we discovered she had liver cancer.
She battled eye cancer for three years, went practically blind in her right eye, and as she improved and the cancer went into remission, god, by some "plan," decided to strike her again with liver cancer. I still don't understand why it happened. She maintained her faith throughout her battle with her illness, but in the end god simply played another card to kill her swiftly. Disappointment...that's what I feel about god and religion.
On the morning of June 19th, 1997, I saw my mother "alive" for the last time. She was in the intensive care unit at the Independence Regional Health Center. She was not responsive, and the bleak surroundings of the room seemed to drain the life from her faster than the cancer. I don't remember what happened in that room, but I know that I did not stay for long. Life support can keep a body alive, but god decided to kill her. You can't fight against this almighty bully.
Almost eight years passed since that day. I drove down to Independence yesterday evening to visit my mother's grave at the cemetery, but the place was closed. Although I had no ill intent, I did not want to simply jump the gate and wander through the graveyard full of those who died and came to rest in this mockery of life known as a well-maintained yard full of stones hiding hundreds of bodies underneath the cold, dark soil.
Instead of going to her grave, I went to the place where she died. I made it all the way to the parking garage, but I couldn't continue. I've been to that hospital since that fateful day, but that was to see my mom's mom, and she died there (or nearby) too. I sat in my car in that parking lot and willed the emotions to come forth, but instead I only experienced a dull ache. Eight years of absence does not yield the strong feelings of the past. I sensed death at that place, and it was overwhelming.
I could have gone to other places that night, but I did not. I could have gone to the church where we prayed for her healing and grieved as a congregation. I could have gone to the auditorium where she was supposed to see me graduate. I could have gone to the houses I grew up in and thought about the past. I could have gone to my aunt and uncle's house and sat where I was when we received the call that she died. Instead I turned my mind away from the torture of grief and tried to find something to do. I was all alone in the city, but I couldn't stand the thought of talking to anyone.
Where was this gracious god then? Where is this god now? I don't want your answers. I don't want your pity. I just want the silence to end. I doubt that will happen. Am I an unbeliever? No, but I am not going to try to find some almighty being who allows the silence to permeate my life for eight years. I'm tired of doing the work, god. When will you stop the silence?
"faith is for the fortunate ones. all this pain and all this anger cannot be undone. cause the only prayer you answered then was to make it swift and painless in the end. so how can I forgive you? oh god, you let me down."