Bad Mormon Girl 102–I KNOW that you don’t know

Two weeks ago my brother-in-law, who suffered unmercifully at the hands of the evil CANCER, finally passed away. It was a relief for those who watched him suffer, but it was also cruel and brutal.

He had three children from a first marriage, my two nieces and a nephew, all grown, and my two very young nieces, from his marriage to my sister. They are six and nine. We attended the funeral at a mortuary, which was Paul’s choice, because he wanted ALL his friends to be comfortable and feel accepted, not just his Mormon friends.

But, of course, being a believing Mormon, he asked two of his spiritual leaders to speak. One was okay. He seemed to realize he was going to lose some of us if he read from the Book of Mormon, and so he spoke from the heart. It was Mormon speak, but it was okay.

The second speaker should have been marched out of the building, covered in duct tape and left in the snow because he was reading from the Book of Mormon, and quoting it, and saying the same thing over and over. Now I was sitting in the front row, being family and all, so I was like a target. His eyes met mine, and he was determined, DETERMINED, I tell you, to convince me of the truthfulness of what he was talking about. He was trying to convince ME and probably all the other non-believers, of the TRUTH of what he and Paul and my sister, and all the Mormons around me believed. He kept meeting my eyes, and I tried to be nice. Finally, I gave him the cocked head, “Are you KIDDING me?” look, and he got worse. I turned to my daughter and said, “Do you have a buzzer on your phone, because Paul wanted this funeral to be short, and this guy has gone WAAAAYYY over his quota.”

She laughed. No buzzer. More eye contact, more Book of Mormon, more “This is the only true thing.” The more antsy I got, the more personal he got. He was going to convince me, because he KNEW I was a non-believer. I guess it’s my fault he went off on his repetitive tangent, because I probably even rolled my eyes, even though I didn’t mean to do it.

Finally, he gave up, probably because he realized there was going to be an uprising if he didn’t. Not from me, but from everybody else in there, including the Mormons.

When you asked people afterward what they thought of the funeral, the best parts were his older children speaking, my sister speaking, and the bagpiper playing his final lament.

They also loved the six white doves Birdman released and the 52 blue balloons (Paul’s age) that were released. My niece Fluffy wore her dad’s tie to both services, and told me her favorite part was that she got to count when they released the balloons.

RubySue, who has Asperger’s, spent a lot of time holding her dad’s hand and stroking his hair, which was creeping people out so they sent her with someone to get ice cream. But in her world, this was probably normal behavior. She was saying goodbye. She said she would miss his kisses on her cheek.

Death is something we don’t understand. My granddaughter Peanut was quite fascinated by the dead body in the casket, and would have crawled in if I let her. She was not fearful. Neither was RubySue. But the adults… oh we fear death.

And why? Because we don’t know what waits for us out there. And people of all religious ilk constantly say they do. “I know…” “I know this church is true.” “I know Joseph Smith was a prophet.” “I know we will see Paul again, and we will live together where there is no pain.”

I know.

To know something means you understand it, it is there, tangible, and you can prove it.

The truth is, these people KNOW nothing of the sort. They BELIEVE it. There is a huge difference. And why they cannot accept this is something I don’t get.

I respect their beliefs. I respect their right to BELIEVE what they want. I respect it a whole lot more than I ever used to, probably because I am getting older and I understand…. I understand loss. I understand that you will believe just about anything when you are grieving and need comfort.

My father is still grieving my mother, who we lost six months ago, and he clings to the Mormon theology like a dying man clings to a lifevest. Is this wrong? Nope. Do I understand it? Yes.

I walk away from theology arguments with him now, but not for the reasons he thinks. I walk away because I don’t want to argue his belief with him. I don’t want to take away the one thing he is clinging to, that is getting him through every day. I don’t want to argue it, because I am not out to destroy a fragile old man who misses his wife of 52 years EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don’t need to prove that he is wrong. I don’t WANT to prove that he is wrong.

Of course, he still wants to prove to me that he is right. My sister, also very religious, is also clinging to her religious beliefs, and who the hell can blame her? She lost our mother and now her husband, the love of her life.

I suppose what it comes down to is brain matter. The way our brains work. Because the thought processes of some people are VERY different from others. I have a friend who is an atheist. She is very comfortable with this. I consider myself agnostic, because I DON’T know. I am very comfortable with this. I have many friends who are deists. They want everyone else to believe what they believe because they are terrified that it is not true and they are going to die and to go into nothingness.

Validation is what they seek. A bedtime story that will soothe their fears. But it doesn’t work that way. The truth is, NO ONE KNOWS. They only “believe.”

The day after the funeral was the “blessing” of our newest granddaughter. Which means it was “I KNOW” day in the Mormon Wardhouse (otherwise known as Fast and Testimony Meeting). The day where everyone stands up and tells you just exactly what they KNOW TO BE TRUE, and what will happen to you if you don’t believe it, too. We stayed for the blessing, which was first, and then slipped out. I had pants on. I might as well have had a bullseye on my butt.

We got while the getting was good. Sooner or later, someone is going to get wise and put the baby blessings at the END of “I KNOW” day. Please do not suggest this. In fact, if you KNOW the church is true, go ahead and call me anti and run away, because I will never sit through one of those again.

They are painful, and sad, and filled with empty promises of a life beyond that people desperately want to believe is there.

I am not telling you it isn’t there. I’m also not telling you it is.

We don’t know. Maybe one day we will find out. Or not.

I KNOW this is true. Paul, you will be missed. And I hope you’re right. Hope I catch you on “the flipside.”

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About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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9 Responses to Bad Mormon Girl 102–I KNOW that you don’t know

  1. Genevieve says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. And you’re so right. No one knows. They can’t.

    Like

  2. Tony says:

    I’m leaving a comment on here knowing full well that I will be the next victim of your hate and wrath. That is just who you are and I’m okay with it. My bet is that you won’t allow this to post and no one will read it but you. At least you’ll know what I’m thinking.

    Something needs to be said when you start to make stuff up and try to pass it off as knowing.
    First off, Paul didn’t want to do it at the mortuary so his non Mormon friends felt comfortable. It was all about convenience for everyone that wanted to attend. He didn’t want people to have to drive from the funeral service in Syracuse to the interment service in Layton. That is how Paul was, always putting other people first.

    Second thing about your post that really bothers me, is how your hatred towards the Mormon religion makes everything they say, about you. I’m not religious in the least bit and can tell you that the words of the speaker you reference, were not directed at anyone that didn’t want to listen. You sure seemed to take his “opinion” as a slap in your face. You felt as though he was speaking directly at you. A man that doesn’t know you, is calling you out at someones funeral? I don’t think so. That is one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen you write. You know who also listens to speakers and feels as though they are talking directly at them? Faithful followers. You bad mouth them for being sheep and being the way they are. The way I see it is you’re guilty of the same thing. You might not be following but you’re sure letting their words dictate who you are.

    I don’t get where all your hatred comes from Natalie. It’s a very ugly thing that has turned you into someone so negative, that all your writing and posts just come off as drivel. It’s all so monotonous and misconstrued, that anyone with half a mind would quit reading after the first paragraph. After all, it’s just going to be about how everyone is against you. Hates you and your choice. Thinks you’re evil and sick. But then again, that’s what you want everyone to think. Poor Natalie the ex Mormon. Her life is so bad. Get over yourself, everyone else has.

    Like

  3. Sheila says:

    It has been said that good writing should evoke emotion in the reader. Kudos, you have done just that. You have succeeded in evoking hurt in an already grieving daughter. You took a beautiful tribute for my father and made it about yourself.

    As an ex-morman myself, I’m not religious in the least and found Ted Elder’s words to be inspired. I’m not sure if you knew this, but my dad was actually quite close with him. It was at the request of my dying father that Ted spoke. My dad was all about getting out in the world and making connections with others. Mr. Elder captured the essence of my father and spoke from the heart. As for the religious aspect of his talk, my dad was very religious so the mention of his religion and beliefs at his funeral was very appropriate. As his daughter, I can confidently say that my dad didn’t have an issue with anything Ted said. I had the privilege of spending time with Ted the last week of my dad’s life so I can tell you that he is a lot like my father, good hearted and not judgmental. He is genuine and eager to serve others. He never once made me feel uncomfortable, on the contrary he made me feel peace and love at a time in my life that I was most weak. He never preached to me or told me I was lost and needed to change my ways. He has been a great strength to Sandra during this difficult time. Ted Elder is a good man and I am thankful my path crossed his.

    Tony already left a comment clarifying why the funeral was really held at the mortuary so I won’t spend time on that. I would like to resolve that “RubySue” was not rushed out for ice cream because she was touching our deceased father. The ice cream outing was actually planned well before that ever happened. She was given the option, not forced, and went to get ice cream on her own free will. The viewing was long and draining for us adults, imagine how it was for a child. An old friend offered to do something nice for the children and they jumped at the opportunity.

    I hope Sandra never reads this blog post. I am not going to show it to her or discuss it with her. The last thing she needs right now is to read something so disrespectful, uninformed, and self-involved. My dad would want me to protect her from this, so I will do my best. My dad led a full life and in my 29 years I can tell you without a doubt that he was happiest when he was with her.

    We are all given the freedom to think, speak, write, and live as we wish. Of course, our actions always have consequences and reactions. That is one of the many things that makes life beautiful. My reaction to this post is intense hurt mixed with some anger. I took offense, but then again all great writers offend their readers at one point or another. In all honesty, I read this too soon and am still grieving the loss of my father. I contemplated whether or not I should even leave a comment, the last thing my dad would right now is any contention in the family. As a free thinking writer I trust that I can leave my thoughts with you without repercussions on family relations. I hope the insight of a non-religious daughter of the man you wrote of may open your eyes a little and soften your heart. What do I think life is all about? I think it’s about being a good person, learning, and moving forward. I learned this from my dad, may he rest in peace.

    Like

    • Sheila,

      You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful girl. It was a lovely service. I didn’t care for one person’s talk, but as you noted, I don’t know him. He’s probably a perfectly nice man. All I was doing was blogging my observations. I don’t call your young sisters by their names because they are too young to appear on a public blog. You will note I also did not use your names. And Ted Elder (named only because YOU named him) is the one who said your father had the funeral at the mortuary instead of a church because that was the kind of guy he was. He wanted all his friends to be comfortable. I guess you guys missed that part of his talk.

      I also heard the other comment from someone, but I will not repeat who.

      I’m sorry I hurt you. It was not my intent. Your father was a great man. You are mourning. You have lost so much. And I feel for you.

      Someday I think you’ll understand. Or maybe not. It’s your choice, but I don’t blog out of anger. I blog because this world is so interesting. There’s enough Mormon bloggers out there. EVERYWHERE. I can speak my mind, too. It was not a personal attack on you or ANYONE in your family.

      And of course you can tell me how you feel without fear or repercussions. And I feel very sad you are hurt. You are a wonderful daughter, your father was a wonderful man, and we will all miss him.

      Like

    • By the way, I agree completely. Life is about being a good person, learning, and moving forward.

      Like

  4. Sheila says:

    I know your intent was not to hurt me or anyone else. I don’t have an issue with you blogging about Mormons or your observations of the people or the religion, this particular post just stung because the subject matter was so personal and my wounds are still fresh. I completely support freedom of speech and enjoy blog hopping to see the insight and views of others. It was kind of you to say you were sorry I was hurt, I realize I was intruding on your creative outlet.

    I actually genuinely appreciate you not using the real names of the little ones, I understood from the beginning why you did that. I was simply using the same name you gave her to maintain consistency.

    As for Mr. Elder, I am well aware you never gave his name and I am the one that did that. It was very much intentional. I was trying to give him some depth and personalize him. Believe me when I say I have had my share of hurtful run-ins with LDS leaders and judgmental members. I just cringe when someone is lumped in a group they don’t belong. I recall him saying my dad wanted all of his friends to be comfortable but do not recall the mention of specifically “non-member” friends, I must of missed that. I interpreted the comfort he was referring to as not making everyone drive back and forth across town, which was my dad’s intent.

    It is clear from my remarks last night that after reading this post originally I was emotionally charged, and I will admit I am a lot more rational now then I was then. The thought of some stranger stumbling on this blog post and not understanding another point of view of my father’s funeral was more than distressing. I felt an overwhelming amount of urgency to share my observations and feelings, thank you for letting me do so. Writing and crying last night was very cathartic.

    At the end of day, we just have to agree to disagree. The funny thing is, I had the same thought as you. That one day I hoped you would be understand and that it would be your choice to do so. When it comes down to it, I already did my time feeling as if every comment for the masses was directed at me and I would let it hurt and anger me. One day I figured out what I needed most to move forward was to let it go. I’m much happier now that baggage is behind me and feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m at peace with the decisions I have made and know I’m a good person, no religious discourse can take that from me.

    Like

    • I understand you were mourning. It has a great deal to do with the way I responded to you. I felt horrible that i had hurt you in your vulnerable state. And if you wish, I will gladly turn my actual blog over to you for a guest post. I don’t think my opinion is the only opinion. I don’t think I’ve got it all right. And I am NOT angry. I get passionate and it seems like anger, but even with my father, I just walk away from arguments. Why would I want to destroy his belief system when it’s all that helps him get out of bed in the morning? I WALK AWAY. This is not anger, even thouogh I am not accorded the same treatment. I am not allowed to cite my feelings and opinions. And that’s all I did.

      I’m not angry. It’s been a long time since I was angry. This blog has suffered from that somewhat, and has a lot to do with why I changed the name. Someday, we should sit down and talk about THIS issue, and you will realize I’m not angry. Until then, just know that I feel your pain. And I am genuinely sorry for your loss, and consider it my loss as well. Your dad never hesitated telling me what he thought of what I had to say or do and I took it, because it meant he was reading what I said, and thinking about it.

      There is no one side to any story. And everybody has a story.

      Like

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