It's been a strange few weeks here -- shockwaves from events in other's lives radiating outward, some making me glad for the relative calm in my life, others making me wonder if I've fallen too deeply into a rut. The weather is often ominous, switching from sunny and pleasant to overcast to torrential rain in fractions of hours. Headaches and bad dreams are frequent. There's a psychic shrapnel in the Atlanta air this May.
Overshadowing everything -- the sudden passing of a co-worker. It's shocked everyone and hung over everything for the past two weeks.
I have mercifully little experience with death. People in my life have died -- at age 33, if they hadn't, it would be quite a statistical anomaly. But those have either been the end result of a long debilitating illness, or someone I hadn't seen in years.
In this case, I wasn't close to the person, but I'd seen her several times a week for more than five years now. It leaves a void I would not have predicted.
And it reopens an age-old question -- what next? It's times like this that I feel my absence of a real faith -- one way or the other -- most keenly.
Of my two closest friends here in Atlanta, one is a devout Christian -- and she knows there is an afterlife. The other a staunch atheist -- and he knows there isn't an afterlife. Me? I waver between agnostic and what the personals euphemistically call "spiritual but not religious," and I don't know anything.
It's a terrifying emptiness of knowledge, this blank space on the map. It's less of a concern as it directly affects me -- when I die, I'll find out.
But those around me, there one day and gone the next, what is left? Scattering atoms or a transformed soul?