My Father is Dying

The man I knew is gone, replaced by a broken, bewildered animal.

Thu, 6 May 2021

I knew it would happen someday. I wasn’t expecting someday to come so soon. Unfortunately, I don’t get to fall apart. My wife is depending on me to keep it together, people at my day job are depending on me to show up and work, and I’m the closest my mother has to a reliable son.

I mentioned this to my coach at my day job, and they suggested I seek solace in the Bible.

I don’t think they expected me to turn to Isaiah 45:7, but I’m in an Old Testament kind of mood right now. Here’s the verse from the Douay-Rheims, since I grew up Catholic.

I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord that do all these things.

The people maintaining drbo.org also suggest that “create evil” refers to the evil of afflictions and punishments, rather than the evil of sin. I don’t buy it, but if cancer is an affliction then this interpretation still works for me.

The nice thing about a strictly Old Testament view of God is that it obviates the problem of evil: how can an omnicient, omnipotent, and benevolent god allow evil and suffering? If you accept that God isn’t necessarily benevolent, then it’s just a matter of accepting that God let’s shit happen, that God has his reasons, that God can’t be bothered to explain himself to the likes of mere humans, and that sometimes shit happens to you just because you didn’t have the good sense to get out of the way.

I envy Jews; it seems that unlike Christians who must accept the notion of a loving God, Jews at least have the option of remonstrating with God in prayer. It probably doesn’t help, but at least they can vent, call God a schmuck, and accuse him of drinking on the job. What can a Christian say besides, “thy will be done”?

Well, I’m not a Christian. As far as I’m concerned, God is a cosmic slumlord who drinks on the job and uses human misery to get his rocks off. And if I as an agnostic atheist am wrong about God, then between my father and my wife getting cancer—even though my wife survived—God’s gonna need a guardian angel when I meet him. You see, Ambrose Bierce might have recognized four types of homicide, but I only recognize two kinds of deicide:

Which of these applies to the demiurge depends on whether your beef with him is personal or a matter of principle.

My problem isn’t that my father must die. Everybody dies. My objection is to the time and the manner in which he will pass from the world. A man should not be condemned to work his entire life, and be struck down before he’s old enough to retire. Nor should his death be a drawn-out affair that robs him of his strength and pride, and leaves him a hollow shell of the man he had been. This is not my idea of justice, and there is no dignity in such a death.

Of course, more devout people than me might insist that it’s better this way, that having one’s strength and pride taken away can being you closer to God. I say that if this is the best God can do, then he’s nothing but a demon and he can go to Hell. That’s where demons belong, isn’t it?