Sunday, August 22, 2010


I was really afraid when my mom died that I would suddenly be overcome with some need for God or religion. I sat there for weeks as they turned into months and I eased my way out of the shock of her being gone, and it hit me that her cancer and her death were random, just as everything else in this world is, and that my fear was unfounded and I am just as atheistic as I was when I was three.

So, two years later I get cancer and I begin looking for someone to blame. I start thinking I must have done something wrong and this “God” figure is smiting me. I even thought that my mom was up in her “Heaven” laughing her ass off and saying “I told you so!” while petting my cat and hanging out with dead tennis players …, but here I am, over seven months after being diagnosed, and I see once again that life is random on a daily basis; everything is random; my getting cancer only proves randomness more. Anything can happen at any time and anyone can die. Everyone will die. I think I never really got that as a kid because I never really knew anyone who had died. Funny, I said a line like that in a play once and I remember telling a friend that it was the most truthful line I had ever spoken on stage (or off). What it meant to say back then and what it means now are so different. You lose someone close to you and suddenly you are on the other side of something. It’s the same when you get cancer. It happens daily with so many things though, good and bad: the first time you eat a certain food, the first time you kiss someone you really love, your first sex, your first sex in the back seat of a tiny car, first visit to anywhere; daily we do new things or we do old things with new people, and it’s a new experience and suddenly we are on the other side of it; the side where we now know what it’s like to have had that particular experience. It’s just that some of the experiences are more significant like your wedding day or the day your mom dies. We are all here, alive and breathing and death does not discriminate amongst the living; it gets us all someday.

I really had no full concept of death before I lost my mom. She was probably the most important person in my life. Then I lost my soul mate seven months later and the numbness of losing my mom that was just wearing off returned like a bat to the back of the head. All the tears I had stored up poured out. Losing Lou was easier; and not because I loved him less in any way, I just loved him differently. Actually, I loved him more: he was my baby, he was my life, he was my everything, and I told him all of that daily; I showed him all the time that he meant the world to me, whereas I really failed to do that with my mom. Even as she was dying I couldn’t get out all the things I wanted to say to her. Louis knew, well as much as he could, that he was worshipped by me, and even though I could totally have been a better mom to him, he had a really great life. I was happy he wasn’t suffering anymore and there was no unfinished business between us (well, besides my forgetting to say good-bye that last time I saw him, but I forgave myself for that a while ago). With my mom I had a lot of unfinished things and open wounds and what-not. I had two months I could have worked it all out and I didn’t. I hadn’t realized the finality of death until she was dead. I still have trouble fully wrapping my mind around the fact that she will never come back and I will never get to tell her anything ever again.

Maybe that’s why I think about religion and I almost want to believe in it. I think that if I tell myself there’s a heaven that I’ll go there after I die and I’ll see my mom again. It’s a comforting thought. That’s why so many people believe in gods and afterlives; it’s comfy and cozy and keeps them warm at night. It keeps them from going totally nuts realizing that there is truly no one looking out for us; we are absolutely alone and life has no meaning besides the arbitrary meanings we apply to things. We serve no purpose besides what we choose, and when we die we are dead. Most people are bothered by that idea. Sometimes I am too. Being cozy sounds nice. Sometimes I dream of complacency so I can just fit in with the world and not be that “weird Marie girl.” Why can’t I just be one of the herd wandering with the tide? Wasn’t it enough that my hair was red and stood out in a crowd? Nope, I have to care about animals so much that I see eating them as murder, I have to see our established political system as corrupt, I have to believe that nature and mind heal our bodies better than chemicals, I have to be sexually attracted to women almost as much as I am to men, and I have to believe that this generally accepted idea of some eye in the sky monitoring and controlling our environment is a completely insane, irrational and implausible concept. How easy it would be to be ignorant! I almost want that, but only because I’m lazy. It’s the reason I occasionally eat at Taco Bell: I know it’s bad and ruining the world but I want something stupid in me and that’s the best I can do without fucking a moron. Of course I get the only vegan option I can so it’s not like I eat a steak once a year or anything. But how easy life would appear to be if I could just marry one of these “regular Joe” guys, and have my 2.5 children and work my nine to five job doing something like teaching math or science or history by the book without questioning their truth, their relevance or their accuracy? No, I was born me, and I am too full of questions and skepticism to simply sit still while everyone else zones out and stifles progress by spreading insane ideas about meat being healthy, homosexuality being wrong and Jesus being the saviour of sinners like me.

I’m too smart for my own good, something I was told a few months ago, and it holds true throughout my life. I am not, nor have I ever been or ever will be, a religious convert or a blind believer. There is no one up in the sky looking over my every move, and I’m okay with that. I could die tomorrow, but I hope I don’t because I’d really like to have my hair when I die. Plus, there are a lot of things I would really like to do before I die. I’m sure everyone feels that way. So why wait to do them? You could die next week and never get to. There are so many things people fail to say and then they lose the chance. I lost my chance to tell my mom what I was thinking; and this year I could have died and I feel like my family was waiting for me to die in order to say how they felt sometime after I was gone. Why wait? Say it now when it actually matters; once I’m dead I won’t care anymore and I won’t be able to respond. I can actually see my brother, Bill, crying at my funeral and trying to hide that he’s upset. The joke’s on him though because if I know I’m dying like my mom did, I’m going to have my funeral before I die and it’ll be a huge party, and if I die suddenly I expect everyone to throw a party and celebrate my life. But, no matter what happens in this random world, God (in any form) is not invited to my party!


  1. I am a believer and a rational person. I do not see the two a mutually exclusive. There have been people of high intellect who professed the possibility of something greater in the Universe--Einstein for one. You claim tolerance, but seem extremely intolerant against those you disagree with. You claim rationality, but your arguments equate to nothing more than an axe to grind against a being you seem intent on denying but whose presence you cannot escape. Just a thought.

  2. Dennis- First of all I don't think you understand that this blog is intended for me to express the feelings & thoughts I experience during my cancer. You may consider yourself rational but I have never believed anyone can be truly rational and still believe in any god. How do I seem intolerant of others? Everything I stated here is how I felt & that I worried I might fall into some belief system that goes against everything I've ever believed in simply to gain comfort. The whole point was that I was raised with some idea that there was a god but I never agreed with it, and there's no reason I should. I have survived cancer and fought my ass off on my own-- with no religion or god and without my family nearby, especially without my mother. I don't feel like you read what I wrote as anything besides something going against your religion. I respect people have religion & I stated clearly that I understand humans need comfort, but that I have discovered time and time again, even after cancer, that I do not subscribe to that and that I do not need to. That is mine, and that belongs to me. Of course I have issue with organized religion and with certain things that people preach in the name of god or jesus, like intolerance toward gays, or people who hate a certain religion based only on one version of it. If you believe in what Jesus taught about loving everyone than you would not support discrimination against anyone even if you don't agree with their lifestyle. These are the issues I have with religions, not necessarily religious people. As far as being religious, that's individual and not up to me. I stated above that I am content with my understanding that the universe happened at random and there is no plan. I get that. You can believe what you want and it does not matter to me, but you really do not have the right to judge how I feel about my beliefs or how I state these feeling based on my experience with cancer. I was raised Catholic and chose to believe differently, as did both my brother and sister; as do so many others. It goes both ways. Bad things happen and people "find God" and I feared I might, but I did not. It would be against my nature. That is mine and no one has the right to diminish it. Nothing in what I stated is expressing intolerance. Intolerance would be me trying to take away your rights or demean what you do in your life because I do not agree. I respect you regardless of what you believe in.