I have some interesting conversations amongst my travels between schools during the week. Most of them are harmless banter; some of them are seemingly innocent, but totally inappropriate. During one of those seemingly innocent conversations a few weeks ago, someone suggested to me that perhaps Gracie's spirit returned to us in Jenna's body and that ultimately we might not be missing a child, just a body. Of course, the conversation sparked lots of activity within my mind...
I have struggled with my faith for a long time. Weird, since there are (well, were) nuns on both sides of my family and my dad's entire family (14 kids) went to Catholic school. Perhaps it's not so weird when you consider that over the last 25 years, the many of the God fearing Catholics on both sides of my family have not only moved away from the Catholic church, but away from organized religion all together. Anyway, it's always been a struggle for me. I believe that a divine being (known commonly as God) does exist, but I don't really know what else I believe about that being. Consequently, I have mixed feelings, beliefs and fears about what waits for us after death. I don't know how one can have such mixed feelings and beliefs about something like this, but I do.
There is, sadly, a part of me that believes that when we die, we die. That's it. Nothing else. No Heaven, no Hell, no spiritual afterlife, no reincarnation. Just cold, eternal nothingness.
There is a part of me that believes in spiritual reincarnation. It is not uncommon to hear me say that I want to come back as a well cared for dog or cat in my next life, or that I must have been this or that in my previous life. Part of me does believe that the spirit of each person, young or old, is the rekindled spirit of something else...but I don't necessarily know if I believe that we are inhabited by the spirit of someone else. There is absolutely a part of me that wants desperately to believe that perhaps Jenna's body is simply a new vessel for Gracie's spirit since the first vessel failed...but my brain says that there is no connection and that trying to make a connection is completely unfair to Jenna.
There is a part of me believes that we all either go to Heaven, Hell and/or Purgatory when we die. I believe this more than I believe anything else. I really want to believe that Gracie is in Heaven hanging out with my grandmother, Jeff's grandfather, a few other relatives, a few family friends, and all of her angel baby friends. I want to believe that she really is an angel, because on so many levels this belief brings me more comfort than any other belief or thought.
Perhaps, one day I will figure it all out. Until then, I guess my brain will run...and envy those who have already figured it out.