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An Epiphany of Sorts

I was fourteen, woefully innocent, and stuck in an ever-turning world of pleasant writing and playful Saturdays when death reared its ugly head at me. I remember the sinking feeling (a feeling that I came to know quite well over the next months) with ease: I would be minding my own business, taking a shower or listening to a classroom lecture, when all of the sudden thick dread would wash over me. The world around me would sort of fade away for a moment, and everything was awash with fear. I was raised Catholic with strong family values and I never questioned life or death for fourteen long years; while I watched my friends fall, one by one, into their own angst-filled realizations that we don’t, in fact, live forever, I stayed solidly in my innocence. In one sense, I do rather consider it to have made me unique. I was young for far longer than the children around me. Could it be that because of this innocence, I have found a love for writing? My immature side might argue differently. In fact, she might tell you to p*** off because she didn’t find her love for writing, she was born with it, thank you very much. But of course, this is not the case, and I wouldn’t tell anyone to p*** off. The truth of the matter is, writing was born from my innocence, and it blossomed through my painful epiphany that I will, as a matter of fact, die.

Perhaps the thing that troubled me most about death was not the actual heart-stopper itself, but rather, the aftermath of it all. My mind toiled endlessly over this question, so much so that I couldn’t sleep, eat, or even carry on a proper conversation. I was painfully troubled. Like I said before: I was raised Catholic. Accordingly, I was taught to thoroughly believe from the time I started Sunday School that when a person dies, they go to Heaven, where everything is soft and fluffy and you get to eat all the macaroni and cheese you want, and see all your dead pets and relatives and such. Of course this sounded great to me – I accepted the idea with open arms. However, the day I first got that feeling of dread and what happens next? was the day I started to wonder, in a very meager and ashamed sort of way, if we really do go to Heaven when we die.

The thought of sinking into a bottomless pit of nothing stuck to my mind like glue; I couldn’t avoid the atrocity of such an idea. I thought, for a while, that I could avoid it. I thought I could waltz around through life just believing. But of course, just believing isn’t always enough. Now, I may be naïve in some respects, but I’m sharp enough to know not to just accept everything in life. My black bear hamster, Martin Luther Munchy, went to “the farm” while I was away at summer camp? That’s not even a little bit true. With a furious glint in my eye, I berated my mother for details:

“He’s gone, huh, off to the farm? Just like that? He packed his little bags and said goodbye? I’m sure you gave him a great goodbye, didn’t you, Mother? You give him a little Codeine in his breakfast this morning, eh?”

“No, I—”

“Save it, Mother. I need a drink.”

And I stormed off to the bar and downed my sippy-cup with indignation.

I didn’t want to accept Heaven. I didn’t want to just believe. I wanted to have a solid answer that made sense. I know now, at seventeen years of life, that the answer I needed in that gloomy time was not from a parent or a priest. Perhaps as idiotic as it may sound, I needed that answer from within. Nerdy old me with a plain face, too much baby fat, and an awkward sense of humor that never made anyone laugh, left me insecure and vulnerable that year. I wanted someone to fall down from the sky and tell me that I wasn’t just going to drop dead and stop being me. Call me weak, call me naïve; I was just a kid. I was just a kid who was confused and didn’t have the courage to look within.

Eventually, the feeling passed. I started functioning like a normal human again, and, oddly, my life seemed to get a whole lot more interesting. Although my long-kept innocence had finally dripped away, I was a new person, and for the better. Church made sense to me, even though I still question certain parts of it. I made friends that inspired my writing, worked harder in school, and tried not to repel the men so much with my sense of humor. I followed a path that made sense to me, rather than floating along in an aimless, childlike haze. I admit that I am always skeptical – that because of that time in my life, I don’t always just believe. But I don’t regret the person I’ve become.

Not for a minute.





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