When I was a kid, I had three brothers and loads of male cousins I saw all the time. I told my Granny I wanted to be a nun, because the thought of having to settle down with one of their ilk made me barf.
Then my Granny had a heart attack. I prayed for her to be alive until Christmas. We ended up getting about fifteen Christmases out of her.
I was told of only one God and he was Catholic.
My mummy was always running about our house mumbling. When she lost something, it was Jesus lost Jesus found on repeat until she found whatever it was she had mislaid. She used to promise St Anthony a loaf of bread for something or another. It was all witchcraft and forgetfulness.
Despite working, I fell into the poverty trap. My Granny told me to have faith in St Vincent de Paul. On my way into work, I passed Clonard Monastery. I took my return black taxi fare out of my purse and dropped the rest into the red box. I prayed for financial help. When I got into work, my payslip was on my desk. The boss had done the wages four days earlier than normal.
My daughter and I lived in a grotty top floor flat, we passed St Paul’s Church on our way home after her after schools group. We asked St Philomena for a house. Unbeknownst to me, madam was praying for us to live on a farm. With the help of our candles, the Andytown News and Stephen Nolan – we got a new build. Not on a farm thank God.
Those kind of things made me believe in divine intervention.
Then the bad stuff started happening.
I had a bit of a substance dependence and rather than blocking out crap memories, they came to the fore during come downs. It developed into a lengthy mental illness and to say it was shit, is an understatement. I started praying again to get mentally well, but it didn’t happen.
A plane I was on hit the runway too fast upon landing and took off again. I prayed in French to get off safely. I thought that because it was a different language, it would mean I had put extra effort in.
I realised I only prayed when I wanted something. One day after enjoying a day at work I went into St Mary’s Church and lit a candle saying thanks for the job.
The nail in the coffin of faith was when my cousin was viciously taken from us. We were allowed to go into theatres to see him. He was lying there, braindead. It looked like a battlefield where medics had fought to save him. Empty blood bags everywhere. Hearing his Mummy cry as we left the Royal the night before his organs were donated will be a sound I hope to never hear again.
I thought about good and evil, life and death, love and hate and the role of religion in war and peace.
Who was this fictitious character in the sky that gave us these polar opposites? What was his craic doing this to us? He only takes the best and he only does it because he knows you can handle it – I was told. Bullshit, he does it because he’s an asshole.
Maybe what we are living in now is hell and when we die we go to heaven. Or we’re reincarnated as someone or something else depending on how well we behaved on earth the last time we were there.