I went to live with my aunt in Queens, New York to finish out my senior year in high school. A hot New York summer was coming to an end as I made my way out of the plane at Kennedy airport. I called my aunt on the phone first speaking with my cousin Mario. “Is your mom home” I asked. My aunt and her husband Mario arrived to pick me up. I remember driving through the streets and the NY neighborhoods so strange and new to me.
I slept that first night in NY and in my dreams, my mother came to me. I felt her and could smell her…and her voice. She called out to me and I was happy. Life was good. I woke up then in a strange bed and a strange house. Wait I heard my mother call me downstairs and I knew it couldn’t really be her. For a millisecond I remembered what she sounded like because I heard her voice once again. It hit me then like a punch to the head, it was my aunt, she sounded exactly like my mom. I never noticed until then that their voices were identical and for a moment I paused.
The summer after my mother died was a solemn event. My grandmother Hortensia came to live with us for a few months. I didn’t really know her but I grew to like her although she had some funny ideas like you shouldn’t eat the seeds inside tomatoes. These were bad for your stomach. I also remembered that she used to talk a lot. As our life came to an end here in Sun Valley there were many things that we needed to do.
We sold the house that I had lived in since I was 9 years old. I remember sitting in what used to be my sister’s room, it was empty and all the furniture had been cleared out. It was empty and hollow and felt like my soul.
My mother’s death brought with it many changes. I was 16 years old. I was left with my father and my sister. My relationship with my dad was difficult. It wasn’t very good. I went to live with my aunt in New York to finish my senior year. This was very hard for me because I had to leave all my friends some of which I knew from back in elementary school. During this time I still believed in some form of religion although I wasn’t a regular church goer. I remember that my cousin was an altar boy and at the time he was no angel, it was ironic.
Some people believe that there is no good nor evil. Relativism seems to be the popular. I understand that there can be evil, but that the line between evil and good is bleary. There’s a lot of gray. When I was a child I believed in monsters. There was most certainly a devil who would devour me lest I pay proper homage to God.
I was very aware of fear. Fear would rule my childhood for many years. Sometimes fear is indistinguishable for what you don’t understand. Fear would be the beginning of phobias. When I was 16 what I would consider the greatest of all fears for a child became living truth for me.
My mother died.
It would appear that humanity is plagued with a common problem. This problem is hard to explain for someone like me with limited knowledge of the complexities of human emotion, cognition and psychology. I can’t explain it for all but I can only explain it from my point of view and what my thoughts are on the subject. The subject is religion and how we got to where we are and why I don’t count myself among the faithful. These thoughts that I write are for my children so they know. I wish for them clarity of thought and doubt of all institutions at all times. We are the herd but occasionally we can drink from different rivers.
This word “freedom” has been thrown around a long time. It’s something that has been used to justify many things. Are we free? That depends on where in the world you live and to what extent that freedom has been extended to you by your government, religion, tribe and other forms of social control. Let’s start with some extreme examples. If you’re a citizen of North Korea, as an example, you’re not free. If you speak out against the government, you will have put your very livelihood in danger.