Friday, August 5, 2011

Suffering vs Celebration

My older sister received a pacemaker yesterday, and I feel that my heart is breaking. My mother's religion has been killing my sister since the day she was born. My mother gave all decisions over to the clergy, even those having to do with procreation. When my mother died and was then revived, having ruptured an artery while giving birth to her second child and first daughter. The doctors told her that she could never carry another child. Her vascular system was too weak.

My mother didn't accept that this may have been the hand of her god giving her a very strong message. She refused to defer to the wishes of my father and the rest of her support network, even though they shared her religion. My mother deferred to her clergy, who was in the business of encouraging married women to produce legions of "soldiers of Christ."

According to our mother, our sister was other-worldly from the date of her birth, scaring our older brother when he was a toddler. Photos and stories show her as an adorable little curly-haired doll that could repeat verbatim anything that was said to her. Both she and my brother were sickly children, which required many trips to the hospitals. The way to keep them quiet was by reading to them, fairy tales and stories of the saints, all gory morality tales at that time.

Before my sister was two, our mother was pregnant for me, and our family had moved far away from any family who could help with the babies. My mother clung even more strongly to her religion, as our father was away most of the time on oil exploration trips to support his family.

By the time I was born, my mother's body was literally turning itself inside out. Once again, the doctors advised her to have surgery to prevent more procreation. Once again, her husband pleaded that, if not sterilization, they use birth control. He was only home sporadically, almost guaranteeing pregnancy on every visit. The clergy insisted on continued opportunities to procreate or complete celibacy. Our mother, once again, deferred to the men of the cloth as she carried on with three babies in a strange land.

Mama and daddy needed each others' loving arms whenever he came home to her. They were only twenty-four years old, and both physically beautiful. Their shared arms should have been their reward and incentive for maintaining monogamy while separated from each other, but it became our father's shame in his inability to control his desire for his beautiful wife. They lost the ability to bring each other physical comfort.

When our mother found out she had become pregnant a fourth time, she was put to bed rather than risk losing this baby. She could not function. Her children were removed from her and taken to various relatives. She was left alone with nothing but her thoughts of a god that visited pain upon those who displeased him. When she finally rose from her hell, she had decided that she would give her life completely over to serving her god through her church. She became obsessed with purifying herself and her children.

We lost our mother, other than in body, when my brother was five, my sister was three, and I was still a infant in arms. My sister has embraced suffering as a way to purification of her spirit, memorizing and repeating litanies and prayers prescribed by the clergy. My sister's marriage to the same religion that took my mother from me, I have divorced.

This divorce has caused me to be estranged from my sister as her heart begins to weaken in her old age. I cannot go to her because she struggles with embracing suffering and death, while I struggle to continue embracing celebration and life.

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