I saw This American Life live tonight (yes, I am that much of an NPR nerd), with a story by Dan Savage that hit me with the gut-punching force of a potential revelation. (It may have been a revelation, but I have to think about some more. Although, if it makes me stop and reevaluate the way I look at the world, is it still a revelation, even if I ultimately decide to stick with what I already believed?)
Savage's story was about his mom's death and his resulting furtive visits to a local Catholic church, "like an addict visiting a crackhouse." (see the show live yourself.) He suggests that his difficulty coming to terms with death is the result of his Catholic upbringing: his difficulty is not because of his current lack of faith, but because he once had the faith he now lacks. When you grow up hearing about a guy springing out of his tomb, Savage said, it's really hard to believe that death is permanent.
I'm not sure I've mentioned this here before, but I've become terrified of death in recent years. I'm don't know whether it's because I have a kid or just that I'm getting older, but regardless it's pretty new territory for me. I haven't believed in the Catholic view of the world I grew up with since around the time of my Confirmation--thirteen--but I've never really believed that death is the end. Now I'm not so sure, and I can't deal with it at all. I've never understood how people are able to live with that particular view of the world.
I can barely stand to hear it discussed anymore. It's kind of funny, because when I was about thirteen and thinking a lot about God and death and other heavies, one of my friends told me she couldn't be my friend anymore because I talked about death too much and she wasn't ready to think about it. We actually didn't stop being friends, although I don't remember how it was resolved, and now of course we're not friends anywhere but on Facebook, but I've never forgiven her for it. It baffled me at the time. Now I finally understand it. Death is scary stuff. Who'd have thunk.
So I think I'm just going to stop writing about this now. I may revisit.