Losing My Faith This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 31, 2013
Cancer is a scary word. When people hear it, it is almost equal to the bars slamming in a jail cell. I equate it with a death sentence. What can you do after you get the diagnosis? Cry? Pray? Beg for more time from the Big Guy in the sky? Is He even listening?
Religion has run strong in my blood line. My mother was raised a proper Catholic; my grandmother a devout Christian; my father a replica of his mother; my stepfather a proud Episcopal. I struggled with religion when I was younger, but I always knew I could rely on my uncle John to be the voice of reason with religion. He would answer my questions and stick up for my brother and me to the other family members who tried to shove it down our throats. But with each new friend I made, the conversations were the same, and there was so much pressure to be religious.
“What religion are you, Sydney?” or “You should go to church with me sometime; it’s so much fun!” or “If you don’t start going soon, Sydney, you won’t get to see Jesus in Heaven.”
Everyone’s opinions ran through me; they shook me and terrified me to my core. I had nightmares and begged my friends to tell me more about what I needed to know. I was too afraid to voice my questions to my parents, because they had not been to church in such a long time, what if they were already corrupted by the Devil? With religion swarming around me like bees to honey, it was no surprise that Mamaw Mudd had her church praying, and my grandmother was on her weak, brittle knees every night praying to an earless god. He wasn’t listening; it became painfully apparent when the Cancer ate away quicker at its victim.
Cancer was so distant from me. It felt like something that only happens to people in the movies. TV shows depict the victims as weak, useless beings who fade away and plead, silently, for more time. Time. That is all we want. Just a little more time, God. Just an extra day to visit that restaurant I love. Another hour to hug my cousins. More time to finish up those pesky loose ends. Please, God, just a little more time to live and breathe and love my family.
But we do not get more time. We are born with an X amount of time, unbeknownst to us. We are so unaware of the real world, because watching others live, reading about others living, or listening to others live, is so much easier. Why? Why do we waste such a valuable nonrenewable resource? Where did the people who drag race for fun, the people who stand up for what they believe in, the people I – at 16 – should want to live like, go? Why can’t I walk outside and find people using time like they should?
Cancer does not care how much more time you want. You can want whatever you dream of, but Cancer won’t stop just because you ask nicely. Sure, you can slow it down, but in the end, Cancer wins. It does not accept defeat easily. My grandfather, a well-liked, well-known, well-everything, faced Cancer. Cancer breathed down his neck, whispered its insidious plan in his ears, and took what it wanted. Because Cancer takes. It takes what it wants, because it is strong and knows about time.
And when it was gone – he was gone – it left everyone in a hellish world. I was home alone when I found out. I buried my face in a pillow and wondered why it had to be him. Why my Papaw, God? What makes everyone better than him? Was He that eager to have him?
The days passed quicker than I wanted. His funeral was full of people I did not know. I did not want them there. They did not deserve to mourn him. But they were not leaving and the line to the casket was dwindling.
“Go on, Sydney; have time alone with your grandfather,” a faceless woman encouraged.
The walk to his coffin was painful. Every step I took resonated throughout the room. It felt like I was walking on glass. Each footfall made my feet bleed more and was even more painful than the last. I did not want to walk anymore. As I reached the stand, I placed a hand hesitantly on his new home. The wood under my hand felt so smooth and rich. Papaw’s face was artificially colored and cracking under the harsh lights of Flinn and Maguire. It was not real until my hand covered his. Tears streamed and I choked on sobs.
He was cold. Lifeless. Gone.
In that moment, I knew God had not taken Papaw. Yes, Cancer had claimed his life, but Papaw was not in Heaven with some bearded man in the sky who created ‘children’ in His image. Because no father would kill his own son, allow his son to suffer and struggle for three months, force him to bury his own son months before.
I saw how it broke my grandfather to bury Uncle John. Papaw was not the same. Life was less. Love was less. Everything was less. Papaw was not in Heaven, because it does not exist.

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writerforfun42 said...
May 27 at 3:41 pm
Your story was moving and resonating, since I have dealt with tough circumstances which led me to think, If God is real, why does he make me go through this? I have now learned I need to trust God, because he comforts you when you are suffering. Suffering actually brings you closer to Jesus, since he suffered so much on the cross. I have also learned that when I am feeling trouble and suffering, only my faith can keep me from being depressed. Self pity was the theme of my life for a while, and i... (more »)
writesomethingalways This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm
Very well written! Just one thing to think about though- Imagine if you had a bunch of children, but they lived somewhere else and you never got to see them. What if the only way to be with them was to take them away from everyone else? If you loved them that much, wouldn't you do that? In my mind, that's kinda how it is for God. But anyway, I'm not judging you or anything. I completely understand why going through that would make it really hard to believe in God. I lost my grandpa t... (more »)
elyssa_alfieri said...
Jun. 14, 2013 at 11:11 am
That was so well written, the ending was to the point and was perfect. I loved it. 
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