Updated: Oct 23, 2021
"To have faith is to hope."
I found this photo of my mom recently while sorting my parents' house, attempting to preserve the lives they lived there while making room for my own.
I'm not sure her age in this photo, but most likely it was junior high or high school, and most likely at some school event or church pageant. And knowing my grandparents' love for faith-focused socialization, my guess would be the latter.
My mom grew up in and around various Christian/Baptist churches in the South most her life. She converted to Catholicism after meeting my father, not so much out of obligation to his family's beliefs, but to escape the ones she was raised with.
"I like that you can slip in the back of a church among strangers, repeating the same words and feel a part of something, then slip out the back when it's over," she once explained, still recovering from the church potlucks and gossip sessions of her youth.
My faith has taken its own complicated journey as I've sorted through the various teachings from upbringing to find what the truth looks like to me. My mom's diagnosis certainly has influenced this--the anger at a God I've only loosely believed in, the resentment for those who tried to give divine reasoning for her fate.
I can't deny how the grief of slowly losing her and how my life purpose (still tbd) feels shaped by these events. I'm not sure how much this has to do with "God" in the way many choose to believe in him/her/it, as much as the fact that we are all connected to the fabric of each other so how can I not feel her when she's so intrinsically etched into my DNA?
But, despite uncertainty, there is still Faith--faith in the beauty of this life despite its difficulties, faith that some sort of greater Good can still bring light to the darkest edges. And perhaps I hold onto that because I so desperately hope that she has not suffered in vain, that somehow in some way, this has made a difference; that somehow I will get to feel the full force of her spirit in my life once again.