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When my Grandma died, I was closer to her than to any other family member. I had been calling her at least once a week. After she died, I kept having this urge to call her and talk about it. But, as Grandma used to say, "When you go, that's it. You're gone."
Others in my life have faced the prospect of death without believing in an afterlife. It's tough, sometimes. My Dad, who is also my best friend, is taking radiation treatment. He's hopeful, but the truth is, we just don't know.
Jerry, the Dial-an-Atheist guy, had an angina attack that gave us quite a scare. Nancy, the "Bunk Busters" co-host, had a close call with a bee sting. Hugh Allen, a long-time supporter of CRT, announced that he has terminal cancer. I had a glimpse of my own mortality after a recent medical examination.
None of us think there is life beyond the grave. We all seem to be happy for what we have. Still, I catch myself sometimes wishing there really was an afterlife.
Some ask how I can stand to believe this way -- as if comfort defines the truth. One woman says that the prospect of a better life after this one is the only thing which makes life bearable for her.
It is the very reversal of that idea which, for me, dignifies my doubt. This is it: this is my life. But then, being natural, it is the best of all possible worlds. Planet Earth can actually sustain life, and only the best of the best could have made it this far. Knowing this has forced me to look for -- and find -- the good things in this life.
And what a marvelous life it is! I wasn't dealt the best hand, to be sure, and I didn't play my cards as wisely as I could have. Still, I am madly in love with life and reality. I make the most of everything I get, and I do the best I can with what I have -- because I am a fully self-contained organism, and when my body goes, it takes me with it.
Copyright ©1996 Cliff Walker; Portland, Oregon