I think about you a lot. I thought about you today, at my new employee orientation, as we stood in the chapel, with the stained glass windows that told the story of the Old Testament and mass.
I remember thinking of you often as a child: at church with Aunt Frieda (remember the doughnuts and the chocolate milk in the basement after? Oh, man. Sometimes she would take us to Hardees for biscuits and gravy before. Oh, wowza.)
I remember contemplating you in the living room of the Tolivers’, as the Mormon missionaries talked to me about their heaven and hell and drew me pictures on papers I got to keep.
I remember whispering to you at Catholic mass when I would go with Raley Myers, when I couldn’t accept the body of Christ. I am damned.
I remember worrying about you at the back of the Cornerstone church, when I was 12 and sweaty and sitting in the pew with my then boyfriend and best friend. I only came for the cookies and the kool-aid and to make some cool shit with arts and crafts.
I remember laughing at you as I read my niece’s religion textbook. As I contemplated her education.
As I played Hebrew Alphabet bingo with Billy and contemplated the lack of hell.
I don’t think you’re a white man in the sky. I don’t think you care if I drink in excess, if I covet my neighbor’s car, if I don’t make eye contact with the homeless man on the street. I don’t think you’ve forgotten my father because he divorced.
Richard was swept away by the waves 4 months ago on this very day, as I was living a typical Saturday afternoon, and I don’t think he’s with you in a great golden chariot in the clouds.
[As sure as the sun will rise, the sun will set, You taste the salt the closer you get. Waves, Picking you up, pushing you down, They’re always around. They can carry you all the way to me, They can pull you out to the deep blue sea. Oh waves, there are waves. Empires will crumble to the sand, All that you love can slip through your hand, But you must face the ocean once again. Follow the tides, wherever you’ve been. -Blondfire]
I don’t think Aunt Frieda is there either. I don’t even think grandma Julia is up there, despite her utter devotion expressed through her Our Lady of Guadalupe candles and her St. Jude.
My father kept Jesus on the Cross hanging in our bedroom. He wears his St. Christopher every day. What does this mean to him? What does it mean to me? The symbols I saw on the daily. I have spent a surprisingly large part of my life reading about you, suspending my disbelief in the strangest moments.
I’ve had moments of clarity. I dreamt about Richard the night I learned of his disappearance. He was wearing a red hoodie; his face was all fucked up. He was tired, exhausted, in shock, but he was fine. He gave me the corner of his face smile, reassured me that he was fine, but that he wasn’t coming back. He stood outside the room he was waiting to enter, and that was it. When I was 11 my grandma died of emphysema. I was sitting in my classroom in Illinois. She was wasting away in a hospital in Arizona. I smelled her that afternoon. That strange spicy smell of her.
I’m sorry, but I don’t think you had anything to do with that. I don’t think you care about abortions, or our health insurance policies, or if a man marries a man. In or around or outside of a church.
I think innocent men go to prison; nice people do bad things; accidents happen. Children die; dogs go missing; bread doesn’t rise; streets flood; tornadoes destroy. I don’t think you have anything to do with that, either. I’m sorry.
Everything matters because it’s just us here, now. Isn’t that right? The world is what we make it, because we are made of it.
And I carry on, wasting time, what a privilege it is.