The Fiend that Lies Like Truth

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.


Erin Davis said...

I definitely started revisiting this topic when I had my first baby. I also tended to be the kind of 13-year-old that dwelled on heavy topics.
On a lighter note, I am a total NPR nerd, too.

Athena said...

Okay, so you want to hear something whacky??? I actually believed, was convinced that I was going to drop dead on my 40th birthday. Why, you ask. Well, when I was about 18 I gave an interview to a magazine in which I very blithely scorned age and said something inane like I would be perfectly happy if I never lived past 40--what would be the point?

Feeling sure that God would smite me dead for such arrogance, I built myself up to a frenzy in the few months leading up to the big day, flinching as trucks rattled by, refusing to fly on airplanes, the lot. Imagine my surprise (and relief) when I woke up the next morning alive!!!

I'm not sure if this is "normal" or even understandable. I don't know if it's kids that brought this on or not. I don't know if it's Superman spinning around the earth making time go faster or what. But I do know how you feel.

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