I remember the exact moment when I stopped believing in God.
I was three minutes into my thirtieth birthday when my father passed away. I woke up from a deep sleep and saw a bright white light filling my room and a wave goodbye from my father. Tears sprang in my eyes immediately. I dialed his number, and when there was no answer, I rushed to his house. There he was, arms by his side, eyes closed, face serene. Dead. I sat on the edge of the bed and cried for what seemed like an eternity. He was my only family. He was my only link to this world.
He was gone.
I was alone.
I had never met nor known my mother. She had left me with my father just three days after I was born. No note. No reason. He never spoke ill of her, never regretted anything with her or held any animosity toward her. He had forgiven her for her leaving, even understood why she left, and would only love her. In all my years, there had never been another woman in his life after she left. He had always told me, there simply was no room in his heart for anyone else. His love for her was too great.
His love for me was just as great.
When he passed away without cause and I stopped believing in God.
Taking a deep breath, I placed the red roses at the base of his headstone and sat down on the ground beside his grave. When I felt lost, I visited his grave in hopes of receiving answers from beyond. Mostly it was just the wind whispering through the air, but I normally walked away feeling as if I had the answers I was seeking.
In the end, I think the answers are in my heart all along and I just need someway to pull them out. Visiting my father’s grave is that key to unlocking my answers.
“Mom’s dead,” I said as I picked at the grass near me. I looked at the words on the headstone and smiled. Beloved husband and father. Believer. “I know, even after all these years of us thinking she was dead, she wasn’t.”
When I became a teen, it was easier for me to think of my mother dead. I told myself that the day she left us was the day she died. I had spent my childhood living in a world of what ifs when it came to dealing with her, but as a teen, I realized if I just said she was dead, there would have been no what ifs. She was dead. Death was final.
“I don’t know how she died. Not even sure of when she died exactly. A lawyer came to the house yesterday.” I paused and looked away from the headstone. “He was not so slimy and kind of cute. First time I’ve ever seen a lawyer that didn’t make my skin crawl. No, he’s not cuter than Liam either Dad.” Sighing, I laid back on the grass and stared at the blue skies ahead of me. “They want me to go sooner than later to deal with her estate. Like leave this afternoon soon. I don’t know what the rush is either. I mean, she’s already dead.”
Looking away from the sky, I glanced to the other tombstones and said out loud, “No disrespect of course to anyone here.”
I sighed and returned my stare to the sky and my attention to the conversation I was having with my father. “How could God, take away someone, you, without warning and for what purpose? I spent time searching for the answers, a clue, a sign. I received nothing but more questions. My faith, not that I had a lot of it in God, Buddha, Shiva, or any other religion icon, has been shaken to the core.”
Faith was just a word with a definition that had no meaning to my life.
“Dad, with my faith in a higher being gone, fate has become my religion. I have decided that I need to accept whatever happens in my life, good or bad, is suppose to happen.”
Love of ones fate.
“I mean, fate has led me to where I am now. Sitting on the grass talking to you, my dead father, hoping that you answer from the grave on what I should do. Do I go and handle mom’s estate? Do I just ignore it? I know you loved her. I know you still love her from wherever you are right now, but I never knew her. I have no memory of her. No visual image. No connection to her other than I came from her womb. She was basically a carriage ride to get into this world.”
Sighing, I fell silent. I could feel my dad scolding me for my last sentence. I already knew I was going to handle my mother’s estate as asked. I might not have known why or when, but I knew I couldn’t turn around and ignore it. That wasn’t how I was taught to live my life. My father had always taught me to never look back and even after his death, I didn’t. I knew the answers weren’t behind me but in front of me. They might not have come to me when I wanted them, but they would come when the time was right.
“I know I’ll finally get real closure on her never being in my life. I could meet her and say goodbye all at once right?”
I looked at his headstone again, half expecting to see him sitting at the base smiling at me. “Why didn’t you speak about her? Why didn’t you ever tell me anything about her?”
I fell silent, hoping the silence of cemetery would fill with my father’s voice but I only received more silence. I could feel the entire cemetery waiting with me for an answer.
“I guess meeting her is better late than never, right?” I asked to the silence.
© 2013 Shelia Taylor
All rights reserved
Categories: Flash Fiction