Mom is a Catholic. Kind of.
For as long as I’ve known her, she hasn’t been to church, always complaining it was “too boring, that she can always pray at home and doesn’t need a building and other people around to connect with God. With this disinterest in religion as a community, combined with having an atheist father, I was never raised Catholic myself and was left to social forces and pop culture to frame my spiritual being.
As a small-town kid in the Bible Belt of Ontario, though, the societal pressure was huge. When I turned 13, this culminated in a week-long Jesus Camp of sorts, a time of scrawling Bible verses in daily diary entries and a panic-drenched fear of The Lord Almighty. But through a series of moves away from the region and exposure to other faiths, I slowly identified as agnostic; despite believing something must’ve gotten us here, I remain fully skeptical of existing faiths until science, proof, or some personal “HALLELUJAH!” breakthrough can show me otherwise.
Mom is now sick. My sister proposed the idea of taking her to church again, and I kind of shrugged my shoulders. Would she really want to go? It’s boring. How will it help her? But today, without much prodding, she agreed to visit my sister’s chapel, the first time entering a Catholic church in 44 years. My natural instinct was to stiffen my back and clench my jaw, perhaps as a bitter throwback reaction to the proselytizing, missionary influences of my youth. But when she eagerly slid into the pew and I saw her kneel and swiftly do the sign of the cross for the first time in my life, I realized, well… she needed this. She’s lost her ability to speak, but her body clearly wanted to be there, eyes closed, praying, hoping for an answer to something personal.
When medicine can only do so much, it makes sense to seek empowerment in something bigger, something to get through to the next day… an act no atheist or insignificant agnostic daughter like me could ever deny someone who truly needs it.