Faith is a funny thing, you either have it or you don’t. My parents were both raised Catholic, neither one in particularly religious homes, just your run of the mill, church on special occasions, no meat on Fridays Catholics. Due to a slew of reasons I’m not going to get into, my parents decided not to baptize me or my younger brother. They instilled a certain amount of respect towards the Church, and most of our values are Christian values, but religion was never really a big thing at our house. And right now, I’m not sure this was a good thing. You see, I was raised without the church (a church, any church) so I don’t really feel the need for it now, I have almost no relationship to it. I have little patience for some of the more, let’s call them “old-fashioned” views the Catholic church holds, and I simply feel no need for organized religion. I respect it, my parents taught me that much, in fact, I respect all religions, I am fascinated by how deeply religion and cultural heritage are intertwined. In fact, I kind of miss it, and sometimes wish my parents had made more of an effort to bring religion into our lives. You could say that I’m an agnostic of sorts, I really don’t know what’s out there, if anything, I like the idea of there being a “God”, but I can’t honestly say whether I really believe in him (her, it) or not. I don’t have faith, and I wish I did, in something, anything, cause sometimes in life you need it.
This is why I decided to baptize my kids, we live in Italy, so there isn’t much choice, Italians are catholic. But I didn’t really care which religion my children were raised in, compatibly with our culture, of course, I just wanted them to be part of something, some sort of community, an ideal. My parents are Catholic, my husband is Catholic, so my kids will take the sacraments and go to catechism and learn about their religion, I will take them to church and hope that they learn to have faith in it, in God, in something. Until the day that they are old enough to decide what they want to do with their spiritual selves, the important thing for me, for now, is that they learn to have faith, that they nurture their spiritual selves and when they’re grown they’ll decide. Because, unfortunately, I don’t have faith and I honestly believe it has a lot to do with the way I was raised, I wasn’t taught it, it wasn’t part of my life, and it’s not something that comes easily (or at all) to me. This is a difficult post to write, I’ll explain what prompted it, maybe it’ll be easier for me to get my point across (there is one, a long-winded one, so bear with me!).
This morning I found out one of my neighbors passed away. She was in her late fifties, had lung cancer, did the chemo and seemed to be in remission. I didn’t know her very well, but she was the first neighbor I met when we moved here, she was the first person to welcome us to the neighborhood, she always went out of her way to say hi, and have a quick chat, whenever I ran into her, she was a genuinely nice lady. I saw her a few weeks ago and she was in great spirits, she thought she had the cancer beat, whenever she ran into the husband she would say to him “you’ll see, we’ll be fine, you and I, we’ll get better”. And then she found out the cancer had spread to her brain, and yesterday she passed away. Another neighbor came by to give me the news this morning, and she apologized, because she didn’t want to be giving me bad news after the year we had. I thought that was strange, everyone has bad years and good years, and last year was certainly better for me than for my neighbor’s family that is now dealing with this terrible loss.
So anyway today’s news prompted me to start counting my blessings, of course, and during a phone call to a friend I mentioned all this and added that I wasn’t so upset anymore at having been up all night with a sick baby, because I got to cuddle the girl and hold her and breath her in and that’s a blessing in itself, and we forget how lucky we really are when life, with all its minor inconveniences takes over. And my friend mentioned how it was strange that life’s little inconveniences still take over and we forget our blessings after all we’d been through.
And finally I get to the point of this. This afternoon the husband came home early (we were supposed to go to Tai chi) and announced that the hospital had called, and his last bone marrow biopsy turned up a small amount of malformed cells. So the doc suggested we go in and have a chat. I felt like my blood was freezing in my veins. And then I went into panic mode, followed swiftly by anger mode, followed swiftly by fear mode. The husband stayed surprisingly calm. And this prompted today’s little mental loop on faith, because throughout his illness everyone said to me (even I said to me) we have to have faith that everything will be alright. But you see, I don’t have faith. And today I managed to put into words what’s been at the back of my mind this whole time, I have no clue whether the husband is going to get better. Days like today make us feel like this illness will never end, will never go away, that he’ll never really be better, that we can never relax and plan for our future because we have no clue whether there is a future to be had at all. But the thing is, we don’t know because we can’t know. We can’t plan for our future with absolute certainty because there is no certainty. You can be fine, be perfectly healthy, leave for work and die in a car crash. But this doesn’t mean you stop planning, you stop living. I’m writing about faith today because I wish I could convince myself that there is a higher power, a grand design, a puppet master of sorts, but I can’t and it makes me a little sad. I don’t know if the husband is going to get better or worse, no one does, but I wish that I could hold on to some sort of faith system that allowed me to believe he’ll get better, because it would make this time easier, because sometimes believing something will happen is enough. As I’m writing more things come to mind so I’m thinking this post will be one of a series, cause if I keep writing this will become less a blog post and more a tome and I don’t want to put anyone to sleep quite yet. For now I ask you this, do you have faith and does it help you get through the rough patches?