Losing My Religion

Photo by Lazellion

Photo by Lazellion

A few weeks ago my cousin asked me if or how my diagnosis affected my thoughts on God. I didn’t have a good answer for her. I wasn’t too sure about God’s existence B.D. (before diagnosis), and I can’t say that getting told I have advanced lung cancer has brought me any greater clarity or assurance on this issue. Truth is, I haven’t spent much time thinking about it. My Jewish heritage is important to me and woven into my life in many ways. But in my head, I’ve cobbled together a belief system that is probably more unique to me than to anything resembling traditional Judaism – some yoga here, a Shabbat dinner there, an occasional rain dance, lucky pennies. Once a rabbi told me that questioning God is acceptable in Judaism, endemic even, and I suppose I’ve kinda run with that.

Oh, I searched for answers in college, even going so far as to spend my junior year in Israel. Eventually though it became apparent that I wasn’t going to find answers to my satisfaction, and I grew weary of chasing my tail. I satisfied myself with some vague sense of a life force connecting all of us, and tried not to examine it too closely. I suppose I operated on some sort of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy with The Almighty. My focus was (is still) on being the best person I can be now, and I guessed I’d get those other answers when the Universe was good and ready. Fine.

So, I got cancer. And, I didn’t question God (further than usual).

So, I had 8+ hour uber-toxic chemo infusions. And, ditto.

So, I had relentless nausea, heart palpitations and myriad other lovely symptoms. And, still. No religious crisis.

But last night. Oh, last night. Last night I considered running for president of the Atheists-R-Us.

At 10 pm, due to severe nausea and “chemo constipation” (a whole different thing than regular constipation, I’ll spare you the details), I took a good dose of laxatives. Immediately after swallowing those laxatives, I discovered that not one, not two, but all three “facilities” in our home were on the fritz. At 10pm. On a Sunday night. What kind of benevolent being would allow this? More obvious than a burning bush, more terrifying than parting of a sea; if ever there were a sign that we are alone in this vast Universe, this was it.

I pondered further all through the night as my stomach roiled. I staggered, dizzy, nauseous, disbelieving, out to my yard to pee at 3 a.m. and looked up at the beautifully clear, star-filled sky. Suddenly, it occurred to me that it wasn’t pouring rain like the previous night, and I thought … wait, is that you, oh Merciful One?

Back to square one.