Keeping Faith

I am not a religious person. I will be honest and say that I do not go to church every Sunday. That being said, I do believe in God, I have my sacraments up to date, and I do pray. In a sense, one might say I am spiritual. I have faith.

I don’t know if I have always been faithful, or if life’s circumstances have culminated faith in me. I attended Catholic school from grade 1 to grade 12. In doing so, I attended mass on all of the important occasions like Easter and Christmas. I partook in religious celebrations and assemblies in our school’s gymnasium. I prayed every morning and before every lunch hour with the other students at each of our desks. I was even given the “Religion Award” in high school. Albeit, I am pretty sure I only received the award because I was one of the few students who paid attention in class, and completed my assignments. Regardless, I spent many days surrounded by faith. So what happens when school is finished and you are out on your own in the world without anyone forcing you to attend church? Surely, with all those years of religion “lessons”, it would be engrained in me. This is only partially true.

With regards to religion, I can thank my school for teaching me hymns. I can also thank them for teaching me how to find a bible passage, and for helping me to memorize the Lord’s Prayer. They also showed me what it means to give back to the community through charity work and through volunteering. However, if you were to ask me where my faith truly comes from, I would have a simple answer: from life.

Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting on my papa’s knee playing with my toys. He always played Polly Pocket with me. In fact, we pretty much always did whatever I wanted. He even let me put ponytails and clips in his hair. On Friday nights we would play Chinese Checkers or Deuces Wild, and we would have ice cream. When I got older we would drink tea together. On Saturday mornings we cooked porridge together, me standing on a step stool because I was a little too short to reach the pot. Sometimes he would pick me up from school and slip scotch mints into my hand. There was always a spot on my papa’s knee for me to sit. I do not have a single bad memory about my papa. He was my best friend in the entire world, and apart from my nana, I was his.

So, when he passed away in 2004 when I was 13 years old, it completely turned my world upside down. I felt like I had lost everything. I remember sitting in my grade 8 classroom in a haze because I didn’t care about anything that was going on around me. I just cared that I wouldn’t have my papa to joke with me anymore, or to always light up when he saw me. I just felt empty. Over time I felt better, not good, but better. He had been very sick; I came to terms that I loved him so much and just wanted him to be at peace and to not feel pain anymore. Looking back, my young teenage self already genuinely believed in a higher power, even if I didn’t think too much about it then. I trusted that my papa was somewhere better, somewhere perfect, where he would never suffer again. This thought gave me peace. Faith got me through my first traumatic event.

Six months after I lost my papa and three months after I had come to terms with it, I lost my mom. It was completely sudden and unexpected. Bringing in my 14th birthday without a mom, and unsure where I was going to live was awful. Placing a rose on my mom’s casket at her funeral while my friends were heading out on summer vacation was nauseating. Starting my grade 9 year at school seemed almost impossible. If I was in a haze after my papa’s death, I was in complete darkness after this loss. I couldn’t think of how I would get through high school without her, or how I would go to university. There was no way that I could get married without her to help me into my dress. Having children was out of the question; they wouldn’t have their grandma. That’s when the anger hit.

My mom and I, Christmas 1990

How could God do this? How could He take away the woman who brought me into this world? Everybody dies. That’s a fact of life. But your parents are not supposed to leave you before you even have your learners permit. I remember being so jealous and resentful of my friends who had their moms. They were able to go shopping with them and talk to them about their boyfriends. All I could think about is that I would never get to hug my mom again, and she gave the best hugs. We would never have our movie nights again where she would drink her grape pop and I’d lay on the couch with her as she rubbed my back. That summer felt like hell on earth. But, like all things, summer ended and school began. That’s when something miraculous happened.

My BFF and I

I met my best friend. Well, to be clear I actually met her at the end of grade 8, but it was not until the beginning of grade 9 when we really connected. She had lost her grandpa just a few weeks after my mom died, so we were both grieving. When we talk about it now we laugh. Our friendship blossomed through death. It seems morbid but that’s what happened. Grade 9 ended up being my favourite school year by far. I thrived. I had excellent grades. I won a few awards, and I met some amazing people. More than that, I became super outgoing, not wanting to miss out on anything. Meeting my best friend was only the first step to restoring my faith. I feel that the groundwork was laid for us before our losses so that we could be there for each other during our saddest time.

Following this, I made it through high school, again with awesome grades. I learned how to drive. I got my first job. I

I am a firm believer that the reason I have been able to live a happy life following tragedy, is because I have had faith. I have faith that my mom is somewhere better, probably with my papa. I have faith that they are around, whether or not I can see them; I feel them (not to mention that my baby stares at the ceiling in the middle of the night and laughs, and her toys light up when they are actually turned off). I have had so many people placed in my life at perfect moments, and I do not think this is merely coincidence. I have prayed, and have had my prayers answered in completely unexpected ways. I have lost lots, but have gained so much more. I have cried more tears of happiness than I have cried tears of sadness. This life is not perfect, but through believing in something more, something good, I have been able to trudge on. I have yet to be handed anything that I cannot overcome.

#parenting #faith #spirituality #Motherhood #praying #religion

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