On Wednesday, I happened to be in downtown Los Angeles, so I ducked into the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to light a candle for my dad. I picked a niche with one of the various iterations of Mary not because I was drawn to the icon, rather it was the only one that had a place to sit (instead of those kneeling benches). I put my $2.00 in the box and lit this candle:
Then I sat down and looked around… thinking about how this cathedral and Catholicism- and any religion that believes in an afterlife- existed because of death. The idea that someone dies and just ceases to be is so absurd that so many people simply won’t accept it. They go to such great lengths to try and prove that it’s not true. They’d rather believe loved ones are being punished eternally than ceasing to exist.
We enlisted my old youth minister to speak at my dad’s memorial. This was a decision made by my sister and my mom. I let it happen because it’s what they wanted. My dad had called him up for my grandmother’s funeral years ago so I thought maybe my dad wouldn’t have minded. And then the guy opened his mouth, saying some pretty ridiculous things like how “We’re not supposed to be here” and how “we all feel it” and the worst- “Now David is finally who he was meant to be.” Maybe that sounds really good to somebody who believes in the dead getting their reward in heaven or whatever, but to me that sounds like my dad’s life never mattered and now he’s who he was meant to be- dead. I guess we’re all “meant to be” dead someday. “Meant” is the wrong word for me- seeing has how I don’t believe in a divine creator doing the “meaning.” We’re all going to be dead someday.
But I sympathize with the religious right now. It’s ridiculous that my dad is just not here anymore. It’s so unfair. I would love for there to be some kind of reason for it. All I have left of him are photographs, memories, emails… recipes… and his large accumulation of possessions. Nothing that’s left will come anywhere close to what he actually was, though. We’ve lost him. His imprint on the minds of those who knew him will fade and will eventually be gone completely- as it will be with everyone.
It has to be different than that right? That is just so sad and morbid. Wanting to believe that some other reality exists, however, is not enough to make it exist. This is the only life we know that we have.