Fine. I’m just going to believe in an afterlife.

This book won a Newbury Medal. It's based on Buddhist folktales. It made a lot of kids feel better about their shitty lives.

This book won a Newbury Medal. It’s based on Buddhist folktales. It made a lot of kids feel better about their shitty lives.

Fine. I’ve had it. Kids are getting gunned down by the cops because they’re black (and they are kids, as we’d definitely refer to 18yo white boys as kids), famous people who used their fame to actively aid others in need are committing suicide, other kids are getting beheaded, family and friends are dropping to any number of diseases we should be able to cure already, and my (adult) lifelong cat friend has seizures and is in what my human friend calls her “winter years.” I was raised Catholic and knew from the start it was all bullshit. But Catholicism gave me a few things—an appreciation for lavish art and quiet spaces and candles, the drive for volunteerism and community activism, numerous complexes about the patriarchy, etc.—but the one thing I’m most grateful for is what the theatre artists call: suspension of disbelief.

Suspension of disbelief is what allowed me to get into writing and theatre in the first place. It’s an uncanny ability to lose one’s self in something we know to be fictional, to see reality and say, “Naw, I’m gonna hang with this unicorn in the Garden of Eden.” That’s pretty much what I did as a kid ALL THE TIME. Because if I didn’t, I contemplated death, strolling around the playground by myself, putting one foot in front of the other, crying because I knew everything would end. And that was when I was fucking 8!

Since then, it’s been an uphill battle. With Facebook, I don’t just know in my heart that everything is bullshit and we’re all going to die, I can actually see it in front of me, and it’s terrifying. There are people in every city in American who are afraid to leave their homes, because they might get shot! I’m sorry. You know this, I knew this, but now I’m really knowing this, and I’m 8 years old again.

So, you know what? Fuck it. I’m going to believe in an afterlife, because it might make me feel better today.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to church. Doesn’t mean I believe in any religion or God. Doesn’t mean I’m going to be complacent about social injustice, suicide, rampant tragedies, etc. I’m just also going to imagine that there is something else after when it hurts too much. An alternate dimension of kindness, where maybe our bodies don’t get in the way of the good of our hearts.

When I call my grandmother on the weekends, and we chat about life and groceries and the bar and grandpa’s failing health, she always ends the call with, “Well, I’ve been praying to your great grandma Za-Za to help you out, but I guess it’s happy hour, because she ain’t listening!” We chuckle, remembering Za-Za’s love of sherry and nightcaps, and I know we both know maybe Za-Za’s not anywhere, but for a second in our conversation, she’s with us. It makes me feel better, makes me remember our forced weekly confessionals in Catholic school. How we all sat quietly in the church awaiting our time with the priest, while a dozen women with grayed hair and bonnets leaned over the pews, whispering into their rosary beads. For an hour every week of our kinetic childhoods, we were able to see the future in front of us, stillness, clutching their beads, asking their husbands if the food and dancing up there was good, so they could live their lives with a little less fear, could wake up everyday and say, “I’m gonna seize this fucking day, and if I can’t, it’s fucking okay!”

I dunno. I’ll probably change my mind later. It’s all bullshit anyway.


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