I believe in faith, even when you are full of doubt and fear.
I was not raised with any specific spiritual beliefs. My mother was a Quaker, and my father is an atheist. The fusion of the two resulted in me, an agnostic with a pathological fear of death. By the time I was 7 or 8 I remember lying in bed, trying to imagine not existing, being part of a vast nothingness with no consciousness. I long to find a religion that would satisfy my questions and fears, but have not had any success, primarily because my demand of any religion would be a satisfactory answer to the question of what will happen when I die. This has, so far, proven impossible. I literally dreaded the day one of my loved ones would die.
My fiance’s father was diagnosed with stage four renal cancer several months ago. He has been in and out of hospitals ever since, and I have encountered the harshest truths about human suffering while sitting at his bedside. And yet every night he takes comfort in his mother’s gentle crossing of his forehead. He tells me “God bless you” every time I leave his room. I have learned from him that faith will not take away your fear. And faith will not ease pain or quell doubts. He is still scared, and still cries with rage and pain. And yet he continues to believe that there is an essential truth that death will not extinguish.
I have not found that truth, but I believe in the power of his faith. In my darkest hours, I feel the blessings he has left on my own forehead. It does not matter that I am not Catholic. What does matter is his love for me, and that love is reflected by the cross he traces with his shaky hand on my skin. His faith makes me stronger, even as I lie awake at night, contemplating the terrifying unknown. His strength of belief is something that I admire, but that also feels unfathomable at times. Because I do not understand how life can be so cruel, and I don’t know if I ever will. But whether or not it is real for me, his faith is a faith I can believe in.
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