Growing up in a house where God lives, one saw it all the time, belief. I was fed belief at every meal. I was fed belief at bed time. I was fed belief every Sunday. Standing, sitting, or kneeling I was fed belief until I was full of it. I was a child of God. But then life happened.Slings and arrows flew at the child of God from all angles. Slowly whittling away at me. I watched one of the most precious people slowly destroyed before my eyes. Trapped inside a shell of involuntary movement. I read to her and watched the kindness and suffering in her eyes.
One day, I was pulled from class by my father. His face stoic and flat. Not unlike his normal resting face. Until the words flowed from his lips, “Your grandmother passed away today.” I sat there, 9 years old, wondering all the things in one instant. Why? Why was the question that pounded in my head. Why did he take the kindest person I had ever known and dragged her through living hell, trapped inside a living coffin, only to finally have her choke to death in her sleep. The child of God became a child of rage and hate.
I heard the cries of my aunts, I saw my mother crying in the room as I was ushered in. Then I saw her, cold and still, nothing was left. She was finally gone. I walked slowly towards her, and laid my small hand on hers. Cold, the cold burned my soul. Seared it with a burn that would forever remain. I ran from the room. No one followed. I wailed in private, my tears stained the ground below. I hated everything.
I walked like a small zombie to the front yard. Tears streamed down my face. My cherub cheeks burned and my eyes stung from all the tears. I turned and saw my cousin walking home from school. No one had told him, no one had picked him up, he had no idea of what laid in wait. Only a small messenger stood before him. The words were quiet at first, “She’s dead.” He walked closer, “What?” Then all the rage, all the hatred poured through my lungs like a banshee’s song, “She’s Dead!” It echoed on the quiet street. The pain bounced off the walls, his face twisted at seeing my red tear covered face. He ran inside the house of horror. The family home. I wandered back to the side of the house and sat where my tears had fallen and made some more. The cries could be heard from where I sat, his had joined the choir of sorrow. No one came for me, no one looked for me, the adults were grieving. The child sat in the dirt and cried alone. Like a good child.
The stories all happen the same but different. I loved my grandparents. They were my best friends. They were my gods. My grandfather Allen died next. They messed up his triple bypass. He died on the table before I could get there. A fourteen hour drive never seemed so long. That however was my final drops of the God. The dried with him. I had no tears at his funeral. I had nothing but emptiness as I sat in His house and listened to the man in black talk about my grandfather. I stared, tearless, at the wooden box that held the man who had taught me everything about being outside. I felt nothing. That was the worst birthday I ever had. The present was knowing that his cremated remains in a wooden box would be stored in a small crypt.
My grandfather Ben, he taught me to hum, that you can have a garden, and that simple things like dancing could keep you young. He lived in the house my grandmother left from. He whistled and hummed, filling the void. I was away at school. My phone had apparently rang 8 time before I woke on my day off. I cried in the shower, I shook in the shower, I broke in the shower. I put myself together and came out. I drove home and faced the faces I had faced before. I was a pallbearer. I was asked to say a eulogy. I stood there and tried in front of everyone on a stage of God and voiced my memories of a man who I could not capture properly. I read words that I hated. I stared at their faces. I slid his coffin into the tomb next to my grandmother. I drank… till I could not feel.
They said I should pray. They said I should be thankful he is in a better place. I failed to see it. I had no veil anymore. I was a realist. I was an athiest. I acknowledged nothing.
The last of the grandparents sits in an elderly community with a dog nearly as old as her in dog years. She is slowly being chipped at by life. She lives on. A memory of those before her. I am an athiest because it makes sense to me. Things are final. They end. It’s not bleak. It’s not sad. It’s real. I understand so much more. I am able to deal with stuff more than hoping on something spiritual to see me through. I believe in myself. That is my faith.
“The Athiest” by Rio Martin
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