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  • My father died at the age of 56. He had cancer. He fought on for over a year before the black demons who had already taken one lung snaked up to his brain and stole away the man.

    I was awoken at 5:30 am on the morning he died. My mother had come into my room screaming, yelling her anguish at her husband’s fading. I ran to his room where the rattle from his remaining lung played like the noise of a child running his stick against his ribs. Then, suddenly, it stopped and there was silence. I ran to where his body lay and punched the place where I believed his heart to be, screaming and wailing, begging him not to leave me, not to give up after all I had done to take care of him. But he was dead and nothing I could do would change that.

    I made all the arrangements for his funeral. My mother was incapable of making any decisions so it was left to me, at just 21, to make sure that everything went as he wished. Dad had always wanted Paul Robeson singing “A Tree” to be played at his funeral. He had worshipped at the altar of nature, saw his god in rocks and rivers and felt his blessings in the sun for almost all his life. I was not allowed to bring in the record for the crematorium to use so hymns were sung instead. Songs of someone else’s religion rang through the room whilst Dad fell to Mother Earth.

    One day, two weeks or so after dad died, we came home from church. I was looking for answers, for reasons why life is taken away too soon, looking for something to replace the empty space where faith used to be. Missionaries had been at the church that day, entertaining us during the service with a guitar and tales of Africa.
    Shortly after we got in the doorbell rang and we were treated to a personal visit from the missionaries. The young woman who had played guitar asked me if I believed that Jesus was the son of God. “I’d like to believe,” I began, “but I just don’t know…”

    “You can save your soul, you know. It’s too late for your dad, his soul is beyond redemption, but it’s not too late for you”
    In tears, I ran to my room and left my mother to cope with God’s sales reps on her own.
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