I was raised Roman Catholic, so my perception of the world during my younger years was that The Almighty God created Heaven and Earth and that we were bound by his rules (as read to us over and over again during church service or Sunday school), and if we violated them we went to Hell.
Heaven was described as the beautiful happy place where you were never ill, would never want for anything and that everyone you loved, including your pets would be with you. It was "in the clouds", had no weather other than good and that's about all we heard. Hell on the other hand, was deep underground, a boiling pit of lava and fire, where those who did not follow Gods rules would go. I was told, that if I did not come and sit in front of a priest and ask for forgiveness for my sins that I would go to hell and rot in eternity with flames and eternal devils flying all around the place. Basic damnation. I have had nightmares my entire life, and I'd say 95% of them involved the Devil is some shape or form either trying to take me down to hell or trying to take someone I loved down to hell and and me fighting to save them. These were extremely vivid dreams and my active imagination could conjure up all kinds of nasty demons, enough to have me wake up screaming in horror.
This is the basic premise most christians would believe, so with this understanding in mind, I have spent a lot of time over the last few months wondering what would happen when I die. I am not a bad person, but I certainly haven't lead the most perfect of lives, so, according to The Christian Version of the bible, unless I go to confession, or get absolution from a priest, I am going to spend the rest of my eternity in HELL! Which brings me to my Mother and my Brother. My Mother was a kind, loving person, and my brother was more of a believer than I was. Both of them had sad, challenging lives that they did not ask for, but that were brought upon them through the natural course of life. They both worked hard to overcome their challenges and in their own unique ways, especially my bother, connected with their God way before they thought or even knew their time was close. However, according to God's rules, they are now in Hell???? There is something very wrong with this picture.
Knowing them as I knew them for over forty years, I knew two people who gave everything of themselves to everyone else for only two reasons, one to help the other person become a better human being and two, to be loved. They both wanted nothing more than to give love and be loved, no matter how awkwardly it may have exhibited itself amongst others, that, was the ultimate driver for both of them. After their deaths I was devastated, however, fortunately I met with a number of my mothers friends who cared for her deeply and took the time to share with me her true measure, one of kindness, gentleness, and sincerity. I am forever grateful to my aunts as well for allowing me to see my mother as she really was, a beautiful, gentle soul who would do anything for anyone.
Thankfully I also had an opportunity to meet with close friends of my brother and learned on a more intimate level, the depth of their love for him and the kind of human being he was. The words used, were always, "kind, generous, mentor, loving, always giving, strong, honest, loyal". I heard this over and over again from many people, enough for me to get a really good picture of who he was outside of the man I knew.
So this brings me back to perception and basic beliefs. You see, I believe (yes I admit that I lost my belief for a while), that our lives do not end at our deaths. As I write this I have to double check within myself to ensure I haven't suffered from selective memory loss. You see, I was with my mother when she died. Granted, I was snoozing on the floor and was not awake the very moment she took her last breath, but I had been with her for the past 2 plus weeks, and my sister, who was awake had woken me within minutes if not seconds, so essentially for all intents and purposes, I was there. I was awake, I sat by her side and saw she was gone. I was expecting something magical I was expecting to feel her spirit in the room. My beloved mother, who I adored and who I had begged to come back and communicate with me and who was only a few minutes ago a beautiful living being, was now gone. I waited, for that rush of air, that warm feeling, that possible touch to my heart, the whisper in my ear, it was not there. I held her hand until it became hard and ice cold, I looked into all the corners of the room. Mummy was not there. I did not understand, with my Brother I did not have a chance to say goodbye and to ask him to come back, so I get that he hasn't come back to visit me and say he was okay, but with Mum I had asked her specifically to come back, to talk to me, to not leave me alone, to let me know how my brother was, but it never happened. It did not happen the day she died, it did not happen within that first week, and no matter how hard I cry and beg and pray, neither one of them have shown themselves to me in my conscious mind to show me they are okay.
They are okay though. Through the love of a woman I didn't know, who shared a book with me, I have started to learn more about "The other side". Initially my education was just so I could try to understand where my mother and brother were, and how, if in any way I could communicate with them. Now as I read through the second book, I am reading from the point of view of someone who will be going to the other side sooner than most, and it has afforded me the time to explore what life after death here might look like. Finally for the first time since my mother has died I have met her in dreams, although, there has been a barrier between us, which I am sure will eventually fall away. I have seen that she is not in "heaven" or "hell" as the Catholic church would lead us to believe. Rather, she is in a place where she is happy. I don't know anything about that place yet, and have yet to meet with my brother, but I believe they are both there, and that when he is ready, or when I am ready, he will show himself to me. This understanding has brought a great sense of healing to my heart. That is not to say I don't feel terrific sadness when I think of them and the huge hole their loss has left in my life that could never be filled, rather it has given me a sense of comfort in knowing that where they are, they are okay. They are happy, and they are watching out for me and for my children.
So without waxing philosophically about all the different ways this could be interpreted, suffice it to say, I'm willing to put a small stick in the sand to say that Yes, I have managed to find some faith again after my heart was cut and smashed to pieces, and Yes I believe there is a life beyond what we currently know, although I don't know enough to be able to explain it and No, I'm still not over the loss of my mother and my brother but I am now comfortable in a certain knowledge that they still exist in a different realm and that EVERY SINGLE NIGHT when I go to sleep I call to them, and let them know I'm on my way to visit them and for them to be ready to see me....so far my bro is deaf to this, but Mummy has shown up once, so I keep on trying.
If there is one thing everyone can say about me it is that I am Persistent as hell.
Here's to tenacity and persistence.
Wednesday, 21 November 2012