I’ve found myself in an odd situation. Last fall my uncle passed away. He meant a lot to me. He and my aunt pretty much saved my life. They took me in after my parents divorce and I lived with them through college. In spite of his solid Methodist upbringing and my aunt’s solid Anglican upbringing they are both confessed atheists. Never-the-less, they lived a life of Christian values. It was with them that I learned what a traditional marriage looks like.
It was tough when my uncle passed away, not so much because he was gone, but because there was no memorial service and no opportunity to mourn his passing with the family. All those Catholic things we do weren’t available to me, I had to work this one out all by myself.
To make a long story short, I am now in the possession of some of my uncle’s ashes. I’m not sure why my aunt, an atheist, would want me to have them, nor do I know what she expects me to do or what I should do with them.
On a similar note, a good friend, also an atheist, has passed away recently. He had an inherited degenerative nervous disease and had moved away from town to live in a nursing home closer to his sisters. We got together with a few of his friends to remember him and to share some stories. It was an interesting little group, mostly atheist’s with varying questions and opinions of what was now happening to our friend.
Our friend’s sisters are bringing his ashes back to town. We’re going to get together again and I presume make some sort of accommodations for their distribution.
So, it’s a little bit of an odd spot I’ve found myself in. It was Christian death that brought me into Christian life. It was at my MIL’s funeral mass that I began to realize that something was going on with this Catholic Church. Death is a natural part of the rhythm of the life of the Church, it’s interesting than I’m interfacing with atheists regarding these same matters.