(Pictured Christmas 2004)
January 26, 2009. In a matter of three hours, he went from going to the hospital to Gone.
In a matter of three days, we were sitting at a funeral listening to some foreign white officiator read from a white binder, “spiritual” words of “comfort.” I felt like in his white binder he had a tab for Hindi, a tab for Muslim, a tab for Buddhist, and a tab for Christian. He read from the section behind “Christian.”
He read some verses. One about the shadow of death. One about a shepherd. He said something about being in a better place, something about being united with him again one day. Hm.
He asked us to repeat a prayer after him. The few who understood murmured something in repetition. At the end, he asked us to pray the Lord’s Prayer with him. I was the only one who whispered it from memory.
He didn’t even believe.
At least, I don’t know that he believed.
My uncle went up to finally speak in the right language. To speak his life in the right context. Away from the spiritual, but about the tangible life that he had led. Like the time when my uncle met him. Like the quiet character that made him who he was. Like the way he practically raised my uncle’s kids.
Then my cousin goes up to give his eulogy. One of my uncle’s kids. It was also in the right language. Who knew he knew it so well? Everyone knew our grandpa loved this boy like his own. Everyone knew how much the boy loved his grandpa. They were each other’s favorite.
My cousin talked about how he remembered the way grandpa used to walk very fast and how he couldn’t keep up with him (no one could). He talked about how his grandpa had gone on a roller coaster with him when nobody else would, not his mom, pop, or brother. He talked about how he only had good memories of him. Happy memories, though this was a sad day…
We walked up to say our final goodbyes. I saw his frozen face, dead. His hands, on the other hand, nicely folded over his stomach, looked so alive. They looked like the familiar shaky hands I was used to seeing. I couldn’t help but to grab it for the very last time. It was cold. My tears froze. I walked away.
As the days passed, like they always do, the struggle with my faith grew. My family never mentioned the afterlife after all that. If what I believe is true, then not only will I simply not see him in the afterlife, he will be burning in a different afterlife than my own.
My whole family will. If nothing changes.
Sometimes, I really do hate my faith. I hate that people I love can end up in hell. Forever?! Sometimes, I hate all the things that I’m supposed to value… anti-gay marriage, pro-life, abstinence, being nice.
I hate these things because they go against what I WANT to believe! Sometimes, the bigger picture just doesn’t seem enough.
And yet, Truth doesn’t care whether I like it or hate it. If it’s Truth, then it’s true whether I believe it or not. Whether I like it or not. Guess I just gotta make damn well sure it is Truth.