The Unbearable Banishment: The Great Unknowable

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Great Unknowable

Sunday was the second anniversary of the passing of Mrs. Wife’s grandmother. In the morning, the four of us took a drive out to the cemetery to pay our respects. It was simply beautiful out. Blue skies and cool, early fall temps. Cemeteries are peaceful, remarkably well-manicures places. They’d make great open spaces for the public if it weren’t for all the corpses.

We found the tombstone and while Mrs. Wife and 6-Year Old Daughter said a prayer, I had a look around. It’s a Catholic cemetery and as such, all of the names on the tombstones are either Irish or Italian. Really. All of them. My favorite was a heart-shaped tombstone of pink granite with a very Italian name. In addition to the name, they carved a horse and a pair of dice into it. The dice showed 11 and for those of you unfamiliar with craps, 11 is the friendly number. It’s the only number you can throw where nothing bad will happen to you. You’ll never lose money throwing an 11. He was my kind of paisan.

I heard 6-Year Old say, “Is she buried in the ground?” Mrs. Wife said, “Only your body goes into the ground. Your soul goes up to heaven.” I looked at Daughter’s face and she wrestled with this concept. I wrestle with it, too. The Buddhists believe that you are reincarnated over and over again until you obtain Nirvana. Every culture has its own take on what happens after you die.

Do you know what I think? I don’t believe ANYBODY knows what happens after you're gone. Each culture has its own story to tell. Your personal belief is not rooted in fact but, rather, where you were born how you were raised. Nothing more. I think these stories were made up by man and handed down from generation to generation, just like what Mrs. Wife was doing to Daughter, because mankind is terrified of death and these legends give us comfort and a sense of order. It’s part of the human fabric. But I don’t think anybody knows, really. If everyone adopted this attitude, the religions of the world would crumble.

6 Comments:

Blogger sid said...

My dad has always told me that there's nothing you can do to stop death. Hearing him say this so often and in such a factual manner has resulted that I'm not afraid to die.

September 23, 2008 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger bob said...

All this talk of death and yet it seems much lighter and airier here today. Been playing with templates, have we?

Looks v nice.

And I like the cemetaries, corpses (which I usually can't see) and all.

September 23, 2008 at 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

In all seriousness, Michael Newton's "Journey of Souls" and "Destiny of Souls" make for interesting reading.

I am not a member of an organized religion and I certainly do not subscribe to any of the dogma of organized religion. Yet, I do consider myself to be a spiritual person.

My beliefs about "what comes after" were cemented when I had first hand experiences of contact after my first wife died.

Cemeteries are curious places. Older cemeteries particularly so.

September 23, 2008 at 3:34 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

I kept it simple and comforting when mine were small. But I wanted critical thinking from them - and as they got older, it became much more interactive...

September 23, 2008 at 4:15 PM  
OpenID anniegirl1138 said...

I think we have many go rounds before we finally move on to the next level of the game. And I think we have a great deal of say in the lives we live prior to our living them.

But it's better to say officially that we really don't know for sure. it would make things less stressful.

September 23, 2008 at 4:34 PM  
OpenID nursemyra said...

I look around at people who believe in something/anything and it seems to me that most of them are happier than I am.

seriously, I would love to believe in an afterlife, the thought of one day being able to 'meet' stephen again would bring me enormous comfort. but I'm totally without faith and lacking in spirituality too.

*sigh* back to medicating the pain away with more red wine

September 24, 2008 at 8:19 AM  

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