Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I was going to post something about an event that happened this weekend that was far and away the most heinous display of religious intolerance and outright bigotry that I have ever experienced. I have decided that there is more back story that needs to be told in order for anyone to fully appreciate that and so I will today be delivering that.

Losing my faith happened long before I associated myself with the term "Atheist". Faith being the belief in something without evidence. I can best describe my fall from grace with one very poignant example.

I was seventeen years old and had the world at my fingertips. My father was an estimator with a respected construction firm based out of Portland, Oregon. Money never seemed to be an issue after he separated from my stepmother and began to raise me and my little brother who was 6 years my junior. Every day was exactly the same. Bus stop, smoke weed, school, lunch/smoke weed, school, home/smoke weed, you can see a pattern developing.

I was an irresponsible self entitled asshole and I loved every minute of it. My girlfriends all being sexual conquest born from my own insecurities. My friends being people that I associated with for social status or for personal gain. I was about as fake as you could expect a seventeen year old narcissist to be. Add to that the fact that I was a pathological liar and you have yourself a great deal of self loathing and many different lives lead by the same person, depending on who I was trying to impress. 

All of that came to an abrupt halt the evening my brother came crashing through the front door telling me that I needed to come down the street because there was something wrong with Dad. The lights of the ambulance and the firetruck were spinning silently along with my drug addled mind. I walked through the door of the neighbors house down the street to find paramedics performing what might as well have been last rites on my father. Small machines and stretcher, calm questions from people who have seen just about everything wrong with the human body. With one hand grasping his chest he reached out to me and my brother and strained out his last words. "I love you."

He was in a coma. I had never seen anyone in a coma before. The mixture of Oxycontin overdose and vodka had caused him to lose oxygen to the brain, turning my constant and my role model into an object. I held his clammy hand and watched as they shaved off his mustache so that they could better insert the breathing apparatus that would be keeping him alive. I had never seen him without a mustache before. Little did I know he wore the mustache to cover the fact that he was born with a cleft palette. 

There was nothing I could do. The feeling of being completely powerless was overwhelming. 

I was taken home after my stepmother showed up to the hospital. I hated that woman would not keep company with her under any circumstances. Looking back now I should have mended that fence and stayed with him but I was selfish and wanted nothing to do with her. 

Once I got home I was shell shocked. I went to my bed and got down on my knees and did the only thing that I could think of. I prayed. I prayed harder and more specifically than I ever had before in my entire life. I begged god to exchange me and my father places so that my brother would not have to grow up without a father. I begged until I didn't have any tears left to offer him.

I woke up the next morning to find relatives that I had only heard stories about milling around my house. I was struck with the idea that people only matter to some people when they are facing the end. Even when those people are your brothers and sisters.
I spent more time at the hospital with my fathers body. Talking to it. Watching for any sign of life. By this time the doctors had come up with a percentage chance of his recovery. They told me that there was a less than 5% chance he would ever be able to breath again on his own and even less of a chance of him ever opening his eyes. 

I couldn't help but wonder why they called me in with a few other doctors and a grief counselor for a discussion. This was to be an "End of Life" discussion.
They explained to me that due to the laws of the state and because my parents had been legally separated for so long, that I would be the person who would have to make the decision on whether or not to keep him on life support.

I was not their when they removed his feeding tube.
I was not their when his heart stopped beating.
I was not their when they pronounced him dead.

Part of me was destroyed when I made the decision to end my fathers life. I was tabula rasa. Whatever had made me, me, was gone. With my fathers death I had died as well, leaving only a husk of the person I had once been.

Me and god had a serious problem from then on, even if I wouldn't acknowledge it until much later. 

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