"You need someone to take care of you. Everybody does."
- Jamie Randall, "Love and Other Drugs"
One of the reasons I'd never considered becoming an atheist before this week's experiment is because then I would have to cut ties with my Mom, forever. If there is no God or no Spiritual Entity of any kind, then it would have to follow by logic that there is also no afterlife. And if there is no afterlife, then I would never have the chance to see my Mom again. That is a remaining point of resistance for me in accepting atheism in its entirety.
What I understand from some of my atheist friends is that it isn't that they necessarily disbelieve in a supernatural entity. They simply require evidence to support the extraordinary claims that such an entity exists. And in the absence of that evidence, there is no reason to believe in said entity. So since there is no measure of proof that can be supplied to support the existence of the great beyond, it is logical to come to the conclusion that there simply isn't one.
Yet it also makes sense to me that sometimes, some things cannot be explained.
I remember many years ago, about three weeks or so after my Mom died, I had cocooned myself into isolation in my apartment which I felt compelled to do in order to maintain any semblance of sanity in my new gut-wrenching reality without her. I was sitting alone in my living room somewhat zoned out in a kind of thick silence not knowing really what to do with myself. And, suddenly, I heard my Mom's voice say my name so clearly, so audibly to my left that I actually turned my head to see if she was standing there. She was not, of course. She was dead.
But I heard her. Yet, I have no evidence to support this. No recording of her voice, no measurement of additional energy circulating in the room, no charts, no tables. Nothing. Even still, I believe I heard her speak to me nevertheless.
Around the same time, I flew back to Calgary to tend to some issues regarding the guardianship of my then teenage sister. I decided to see a medium in the hopes of getting some indication that my Mom hadn't completely left my experience; that she was still around me somehow. At the time, I was dealing with a huge swirling vortex of monumentally stressful circumstances having to do with settling my Mom's financial affairs and with the immediate care of my sister. I felt completely overwhelmed as to how to handle all of it properly and still manage my own grief in the process. So I was looking for a sign from the medium telling me that I was tending to everything in a way that was acceptable in the least and correctly at best. As I was driving to my appointment, by myself in the car, I imagined my Mom to be in the passenger seat beside me, still guiding me through the uncertain waters I was facing at the time, before she decided to completely transition to wherever it was she was meant to go. I remember looking at the empty seat beside me and saying out loud, "Mom, please be at this meeting today. This is just so much... I need to know if I'm doing it right. Please be there Mom. Please tell me if I'm doing it right."
When I arrived to see the medium, I gave no information away. Although I was hopeful, I was also skeptical enough to keep my cards close to the chest in order that she might prove to me that she was authentic and could actually commune with the dead. In the silence that ensued, she told me that there was a woman who had just crossed over and that she was standing right beside me. The medium told me that this woman loved me very much. I remained quiet. Then she asked if my Mom was still living. I told her that she had just died and then I said nothing else. The medium was silent for a moment as if she were listening intently to what was being said to her by our ghostly visitor. Then she smiled at me and said, "Your Mom wants you to know you're doing it right."
I know that Atheist Me would find a way to explain how that could have happened: My eye must have twitched just when the medium asked me if my Mom was still living; or I had neediness and desperation dripping off me like streams of pungent sweat after a long run. And I would concede that either of these scenarios might have been so. But to have mirrored back to me word for word a request I had made of my Mom when I was alone in the car only 5 minutes before...
I don't know. That's something pretty unexplainable, I think.
So where is my Mom now? I don't feel her anymore. At all. I don't dream about her. I don't hear her voice to my left. I don't cry or grieve or imagine that she is majestically sweeping out of her ethereal world into my reality to watch over me, my husband or my children. Nor do I think we released her Spirit further into her journey in the afterlife when my brother and sister and I scattered her ashes this past Christmas.
I would love to believe that she was there that day, having just returned from a brilliant adventure in Spirit to celebrate with us the experience of letting her go. But, the thing is, I don't. What I think is that I released myself that day from another layer of long-held, though subsided grief and from another shackled layer of my own limitations. There are no scientific measurements to indicate otherwise.
Yet, I think back to those early days after she died. And I wonder. And I hope.
And I have to admit that I am still open. Because some days I think of her and some days I don't. But in this moment, I am simply not ready to let her go for all of eternity.
That is Day 4. More questions than answers. And that's okay with me.
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living my Mommy you'll be."
- Robert Munsch
Thank you for joining me in this process and in my quest for bliss.
The Happiness Detective