My God is a Woman
Today marks the second anniversary of my dear friend Sue’s transition. As young stay-at-home moms in the 1980s, Sue and I met at The Mothers’ Center Group in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We found this program at a time when a large percentage of mothers were entering the workplace. Based on a research project in the 1970s, the group offered women a safe place to talk about the challenges of mothering and support each other.
I was instantly drawn to Sue’s humor and vulnerability. She shared very early on that she was a recovering alcoholic. She had a great smile, and openly told stories that were real and sometimes funny. We had an instant connection.
We developed a friendship that included visits to the Mothers’ Center, as well as play dates with our children, and frequent phone conversations. Sue was an atheist. I was exploring several spiritual beliefs. We never argued about our polarities. Instead, we shared them and appreciated each other’s perspective. Sue was very smart. Her knowledge of biology and science always impressed me.
As our children grew and our lives diverged, our friendship changed. My divorce and subsequent move to Colorado was tough for her, until many years later when she too went through the pain of divorce and a geographical move. At that point she reached out to me, and I was thrilled to have our phone calls resume, as if they had never stopped. In addition to discussing our children, science, and spirituality, we then had a new topic. The turbulent dating world of older women. We supported each other through our heartbreaks, concluding that men suck.
Sue went back to school to study biology. While pursuing her degree, she got the first diagnosis of breast cancer. I listened to her bravery as she shared the horrible experiences related to chemotherapy treatments. Sue was living in Florida, and I was in Colorado at that time. I felt helpless that I couldn’t take away her pain as she shared the details of her vomit, fatigue, and other side effects.
Cancer doesn’t allow anyone to pretend death doesn’t exist. Having been raised by a raging alcoholic father, Sue worried that if there was a God, He might also be a wrathful, angry man. She preferred her atheist perspective. But as she came face to face with the thought of her own death, even Atheism felt frightening.
She fought death for many years, continuing her treatments and going into periods of remission. Only to have the cancer return several times. She fought hard. The cancer intensified Sue’s hopelessness and despair. Having struggled with depression for many years of her life, she became both afraid of living and dying. She quit her job at the lab in Florida and moved back to Virginia to be closer to her children.
My father died of a sudden heart attack when I was eleven. I frequently questioned where he went, and wondered what happens after we die. Opposite from Sues’ father, my dad was a very kind man. I didn’t have the same fears that she had of an angry God. Furthermore, my mother and grandmother adored the Blessed Mother, so I developed a tremendous respect for the Divine Feminine. I certainly didn’t come up with any definitive answers about the afterlife, but I would share with Sue my thoughts. She listened intently, while attempting to find the science behind my spiritual ideas.
In the last few years of her life, Sue began to read books about death and dying. Our conversations then got a little less scientific and more esoteric. I was surprised that she was open to these things, but very glad. It seemed to help her fear of dying. She also began meditation and mindfulness practices. It seemed to bring her the peace she needed to face her death.
When Sue decided to go into hospice and stop treatment, we had our last phone conversation. I asked her if she wanted me to pull a card from my Mother Mary Oracle Deck. She said yes. I randomly pulled Our Lady of Innocence. It read “I ask you to let go of any fear of judgment. Allow me to be close to you. I honor the purity of your being, which is forever untainted by any experience.” I hoped this message might help Sue let go of her guilt, shame, and fear of a punishing God. After I finished reading it, she softly said- “If there is a God, I sure hope She’s a woman.”
My God is definitely a woman. I imagine Sue is now dancing with the Divine Feminine and feeling no more pain. She occasionally comes to me in my dreams, and I still hear her voice and laughter at times. Love never dies. She will always be in my heart. Rest in peace, my sweet friend.