My wonderful mother-in-law left this earth yesterday as my husband, his sister and his father stood by her side as she took her final breath. I am not sure what I believe in terms of God, Heaven, religion, and all that encompasses it. I would like to believe that my mother-in-law journeyed to Heaven and was greeted at the pearly gates by Jesus himself and a that there was a big parade of all the beloved people in her life that went before her. I would like to believe that because it makes me feel good. And I think for the most part, that is what religion gives people.
I was baptized, confirmed and attended church, Sunday school, bible school and was an active member of the church community when I was young and of the age where my parents dictated how I was to live my life. I am grateful for the foundation they gave me. Grateful for all those Saturday morning confirmation classes when I would have given anything to just sleep in instead. I am thankful for my mothers dedication and steadfastness to giving me this gift. I would like to give same gift to my children but I question it all the time. Does it really matter? I chose my own path once I left home. What benefit will they receive from it? Am I just a hypocrite if I "make them" do this? I thought I'd have this all worked out by the time Lauren starts kindergarten. The deadline looms and fast approaches.
My husband considers himself agnostic. The English term "agnostic" is derived from the Greek "agnostos," which means, "to not know." An agnostic is one who admits, "I don't know." The term is applied specifically to those who don't know for certain whether or not God exists. An agnostic is one who believes that the existence of God is unknown and most likely beyond human ability to discover.
I am not sure what I consider myself so I usually just say "I am spiritual." I just know that sometimes the pain in the world is too much to bear. Pain in our own individual lives and the kind you can find on the nightly news. The kind of pain that comes from losing your father at age 59 when he hasn't seen your children yet or your new house. The kind of pain in watching your husband grieve over losing his mother at age 64 within a week of her entering the hospital. If I hear of one more cancer diagnosis I may scream. Sometimes the world itself is too much to bear. Life is just overwhelming painful and a miracle all in the same.
My mother in law's death teaches me to wake up each morning with a grateful and kind heart. To smile more. To lend a hand or take the initiative to do something great for someone without being asked. To appreciate the setting sun and hope that tomorrow you get to wake up and do it all over again. I often say my life is like "Groundhog's Day" the movie. I clean up the same messes, empty the dishwasher and do laundry day in and day out. I could do it in my sleep. I say "No, Evan" a hundred times a day. It's mind-numbing sometimes.
But each day I need to find a little gem....or cultivate a gem. Find a little peace and a little goodness to fulfill my soul. That is why I write. It's a little thing that I can do everyday that makes me feel more connected to myself and my true calling in life. At the end of the day, I'm a mother. And as my mother-in-law showed me, you can be a mother and still do so much more.