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Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Friday
Jan202006

Death Becomes Her?

I've been preoccupied with death lately. Not in a dye my hair and paint my nails black way. Just an I wonder what happens, what really happens, when the grim reaper rings my bell kind of way.

I was conditioned, like a prizefighter in training, to believe in god and life after death. So regardless of what religious theory I subscribe to, the spector of a flaxen haired, sky eyed heavenly father wrapped in flowing, luminous robes still dwells deep in my conscious.

Do I believe this white man's god is the big man upstairs? Dunno... don't care really. I'm just praying (ironic, the praying part.. praying that there is someone to hear your prayers) there is some sort of supreme being. I'm needing somebody to have a plan! It's irrelevent to me whether god is black, white, red, brown (feel the vibration! Come on, Come on! Feel it, feel it!) Sorry bout that. I booby trapped myself with that last sentence.. Maybe Marky Mark is god?

It all started with my dog Max. He's a black lab and his life expectancy lurks ominously around 12 to 14 years, tops. I can't imagine life without Max. It's like knowing a family member has been given a death sentence..

Have you ever contemplated infinity? Just sat in a quiet room and focused on the concept instead of the word. We easily bandy the word around, "I love you infinity" or "I hope we're together infinity" or "I'm going to buy a new Infinity".. It's even a car name.. sheesh!

Okay, forget the word, focus on the concept. If you think hard eough to hurt your brain, the concept of infinity will zap you like an electric shock, FOREVER. NEVERENDING. Ufortunately, all the words to describe infinity are cliches too.

On the B side of this little record I'm spinning, try to wrap your brain around the thorny concept of Ceasing To Exist. You are no longer. Nothing. No soul, no spirit. You are gone. Again, I'm totally tripping out and I haven't smoked The Pot for months. Maybe I SHOULD pick up some black nail polish at the store today.

Reader Comments (14)

Infinity!

:)

CH
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChuebe
The thought of anyone important to me not existing anymore is such a DAUNTING task! I think about it every night when I close my eyes, I have to open my eyes to stop thinking about it.
We could be gone tommorrow! But I ponder how do you live each day like it is your last? Is that possible?
What will people do when I am not around to cheer them up? What will they do without me?
SCAREY!!!!
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian

10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercchild
Sounds like you have thought this through!
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Been there done that Monica. I'm feeling your thoughts here today.
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFiabug
I don't think about my own future ceasing to exist, but rather find myself struck how hard it is to conceptualize that those you love do not exist any more. My first real experience with this happened on March 30, 2004 when my father passed away. It still does not seem real to me and I miss him desperately every day of my life. I still believe when I call or go home (home being the place where I grew up where my parents (now parent) still live) that he will answer the phone and be there. I just can't figure out where he is now and I can't conceptualize what his life (or rather death) is like for him. Is he living large on some cloud yucking it up with his friends and family who "passed" before he did or is he six feet under a mere decayed corpse? Or, is it something completely different?

At the risk of getting preachy here I'll say this, hold your loved ones dear. You never know when you won't be able to again.
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
Oh jesus, mary and joseph! THAT is fantastic cchild. It's so hard to pick a favorite but I think for today, after just a first read, number six is tickling me most..
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
I'm sticking with something close to my Catholic training, with hall about a forgiving (very forgiving... please) God in the sky; the non-stop "Spring Break: Heaven" party with togas, clouds and stuff; dead relatives; and George Washington, JFK ("So who really shot you, anyway?"), and all that.

(I never laughed so hard at a movie as at the end of Happy Gilmore when Abe Lincoln is waving down from heaven next to Chubbs and the alligator..)

I saw the 20/20 not too long ago which featured a doctor suggesting that an oxygen-starved brain... not the beginning of a trip to heaven... is the cause of the near-death experiences people have spoken about. I choose to believe there's something more... and maybe it's right here.

They say dying is the only thing you really do alone. I sure wouldn't mind some music on the trip. I'm thinking all those great Genesis songs like In the Cage, Dodo, or Home by the Sea would be a great "on your way to the great beyond" soundtrack. Think I'll put in a request.

WB

January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWry Bri
I HATE contemplating either one of these concepts. It scares the crap out of me and I know I will never understand either of them.

Laura: I'm so sorry. I recognize each of the feelings you describe. I wasn't raised any religion, so when I'm trying to find the answers to questions like "What really happened to my mom when she died? Where is she now?" I always try to "feel" the answers, rely on my own personally-generated beliefs. I am still surprised and saddened by the fact that when I contemplate the fate of my mom after death, I don't "feel" anything. I don't sense that she's with me, I don't sense that she's happy, I don't sense anything. And I desperately wish that I did. It makes me sad.

Wry Bri: Man, there are tons of theories that try to explain "the light," the seeing of loved ones, etc. that people with near death experience claim. I wish I had seen that 20/20 show. I wrote a paper on this topic when I was in high school (in my own "dye my hair and paint my nails black" phase) and the theories on both the scientific and meta-physical sides of the coin are fascinating to me.

Monica: interesting post!
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteramanda b
"I'm sticking with something close to my Catholic training, with hall about a forgiving (very forgiving... please) God in the sky; the non-stop "Spring Break: Heaven" party with togas, clouds and stuff; dead relatives; and George Washington, JFK ("So who really shot you, anyway?"), and all that."

Wry Bri's post got me to thinking about faith.. Christians tout faith as the end all be all, they consider maintaining faith one of the hardest, most important tenets of christianity.. Even George Michael says "You Gotta Have Faith"..

But it seems to me it's much harder to NOT have faith, to question... Having faith is the easy way out.. Like believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMonica
Well, I would say it’s hard to have faith…not the kind of blind faith system that’s so rigid it doesn’t allow for a questioning of beliefs. I mean the kind of faith that after contemplating all the injustices, the violence, the random horrible things that are a part of our world, you can still believe that some benevolent being is in charge of it all, & he (or she) knows what he’s doing.
Yes, I do believe in an afterlife, & yes my dogs will be there with me, though I’m not so sure about the fish ;-).
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterchrissy
I am deeply and profoundly aware that one day I will cease to exist. Although that fills every nerve in my body with a kind of tremour, it also fills me with an energy for appreciation of life, every waking moment.
January 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjenny
Chrissy, Monica, I think your'e both right.

Tooth Fairy faith is easy, but real faith: in an afterlife; in something higher; more elevated than life as we know it now gets really, really hard when it's not just you anymore--when someone you love dies... or when you have a child.

I've got three kids, and the experience of seeing them born... of seeing the force of life that they are and exude is too powerful for me to believe that this is all there is... that all they get is a few decades on this third rock from the sun. Seeing them born; watching them grow; tested my faith. And it continues to.

And so now the question for me is will the security blanket faith that my parents gave to me be enough for me to take it off my shoulders and wrap it around my kids. And when I've done that... what's left to keep ME warm?? It has to be more than a myth. It has to be more than a Tooth Fairy......

doesn't it?
January 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWry Bri
"It has to be more than a myth" That is what I told myself for so long, the world can not be going through some sort of mass delusion...can it? I suppose the question you need to ask yourself would be “if there is no afterlife, would I live my life any differently?” “If I am not going to be judged by god would I treat people any differently?” I have asked myself those questions and I have decided that I will not live my life any differently even though there is no scientific proof of an afterlife.

Just keep living, just keep enjoying life, just look at the sunset a little longer, hug your kids a little more often and whatever happens when we die will be just fine.

Later,

CChild
January 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCchild

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