Conventional wisdom in the conservative, religious circles of my evangelical days is that dealing with death without the belief in a god and the corresponding afterlife is unbearable. In the early days after I walked away from religion without a backward glance, I often wondered what secular humanists and atheists offered to the grieving to replace that “comfort.”
When I was very young, America was “el otro lado.” The other side. That ominous, vaguely mystical phrase was how people around me in Mexico referred to my future home country. This little phrase forever colored the way that I saw the US.
I don’t remember the exact date that I decided to stop believing in God, but I like to recall It as a glorious renunciation on a hilltop while looking out at the stars in the night sky. With arms outstretched. I laugh and cry joyously as I contemplate the wonders of the universe.
Emma was a domestic worker in our small town, where even the poor could sometimes afford a domestic. Emma had worked for my mother from before my birth, and continued to do so occasionally even after my father left, leaving Mom destitute.
What do you do when suddenly your life changes at age 70? I found myself and my old dog driving 2,400 miles from Oregon to Houston. And believe me, I love Oregon. I miss my friends, the mountains, the rugged Northern Pacific Ocean 40 miles from my house and my friends of 12 years.