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It's not easy being human

By Klym ~

I've always been a deep thinker. I've been told throughout my life that I think too much -- that I analyze things to the nth degree. I've been told that I'm too passionate and that I need to just let things go -- that I don't have to figure everything out or make sense of everything. That I just need to have faith. I think many of us here at Ex-C have similar personalities -- it's how we managed to break free of the religious dogma we were brainwashed with since childhood.

Every so often I have days of soul-searching and overthinking things. I am in the middle of an overthinking episode as I write these words.

It all started last Sunday evening when my mother-in-law called. I answered the phone to hear her gasping for breath. I knew something was terribly wrong. She was able to tell me through her hyperventilating and crying that her nephew -- my husband's cousin -- was in a horrible, head-on car crash. That he, his wife, and his two children were all in different hospitals with a variety of life-threatening injuries.

I've had several times in my life where things changed in a split second. There is nothing quite so scary and unnerving as an unexpected tragedy. Life is going along fairly smoothly, when WHAM!!! -- everything falls apart and the world as you knew it before no longer exists. You have to eventually adapt to a "new normal" that nothing in your life ever prepared you for.

I hung up the phone and went numb as I told my husband what had happened. The accident was on the 10:00 news. An elderly lady had apparently lost control of her car and hit our family head-on as they were returning home from the 9 year old's soccer game.

Most of the family were in surgery all that night -- all were in ICU's.

On Monday my husband and I went to see his cousin. It was there at the hospital that I sat back and observed how everyone was handling the crisis. Because we are in the Bible Belt, I heard lots of statements like this: "Everything is going to be alright. They are in God's hands." "God never gives us more than we can handle." "We are praying for you all." "God is in control."

I wondered if any of those statements were really a comfort to anyone. Do people REALLY believe what is coming out of their own mouths? Do they REALLY think god is in control? Do they REALLY believe that everything is going to be alright? I'm proud to say that I kept my mouth shut, even though I absolutely HATE the idea that god never gives us more than we can handle! If that's the case, then why do people commit suicide every seven seconds around the world?

I have to say that I felt inconsolably sad about the whole situation. We heard that the old woman who caused the accident died that morning. I knew that her family was also devastated. I just wanted to say out loud that sometimes life sucks for no good reason--but I didn't. I did a lot of hugging and crying, but I never said anything except "I'm so sorry" and "I hope everyone will be alright."

On the way home from the hospital, I talked to my husband about how I felt. He knows that I no longer believe in god, although he still claims to be a Christian -- albeit an extremely liberal and progressive thinking Christian. We talked about how hard it is to know what to say, if anything, in these type situations. He told me that people say those things because they feel helpless and don't know what else to say, and because that's their belief system. He said that he could understand how I felt, although he cannot feel the way I do. I told him that I'd rather believe in no god at all than believe in a god that allows these kinds of tragedies to happen. He said that he CANNOT let go of his god-belief. In a most desperate, anguished voice, he said, "I can't do it, I just can't do it." I told him I didn't expect him to let go of his god, but that I cannot believe in "Him" myself. I am very lucky because my husband and I can agree to disagree on this and still love each other unconditionally. He is, and always has been, an exceptional man -- a most amazing human being.

Of course all of this led me to examine my non-belief once again. I asked myself all the questions I've ever had and examined all my doubts. I came to the conclusion -- for the umpteenth time--that I still cannot believe in a god of any kind. It just doesn't ring true in my heart or my mind.

I also realized that I need to be kinder and gentler with myself and with "believers" as well. As I watched everyone in the hospital that day, coping with this tragedy the best they knew how, it occurred to me how extremely difficult it is to be human. We all do whatever we can to handle the tough spots in life. We are all the same species when you get right down to it. In spite of my religious differences with the majority of people around me here in the Bible Belt, I felt an overwhelming wave of compassion for everyone who was suffering that day. Imagine that -- an atheist filled with compassion for her fellow humans?! Who woulda thunk it? If they only knew...

I must admit, though, that I wished with all my heart that those statements above could comfort me. Why do I have to be different, I wondered?! But, then again, maybe those trite sayings really aren't a comfort to anyone -- maybe they are just habits born of the culture we live in.

The good news is that, as of today -- which is Wednesday -- all our cousins are still alive and are expected to recover. Their recoveries will be extremely difficult and their lives will never be the same, but they will have opportunities again to love, and laugh, and enjoy each other.

Is it a miracle of god? I don't think so. I think the fact that they all had on seat belts, were in a new car with airbags & all the latest technology in safety, and the baby was in a carseat, and my husband's cousin & his wife are young and were in good health before the crash -- all these things played a part in saving their lives. Not to mention the number of doctors, nurses, firemen, EMT's, policemen, etc. that played a part in rescuing them. But I'm sure Bible God will get all the credit in this corner of the world. But that's OK for now -- it's just people being people, doing the best they can.

It's not easy being human...