Afterlives: My Mother’s Breast Cancer, and My Own

Kate Bolick, writing for The New Yorker:

When I was in college, I asked my mother if she believed in an afterlife, and she said no. This didn’t surprise me—she’d finished Catholic school an atheist—but it bothered me. I reasoned with her: “None of us can say for certain there’s no life after death because we’re still alive,” and, “What if there is an afterlife and, by refusing to believe in it, you lose your right to send signs from beyond the grave?” and, “How about this: let’s just agree to agree that there is an afterlife, and if there is, when one of us dies, we can send signs, and if there isn’t that’s that. But at least we’ll have the option.” She laughed and said no, thank you.

A year later, after her cancer had reëmerged and killed her more swiftly than we’d ever thought possible, I thought of this conversation often, and was annoyed. Thanks for leaving me alone in this cold, echoing void, Mom. Would it have hurt her to humor me? To at least be on the lookout for signs from beyond would have been a comfort. I envied people who deluded themselves by visiting mediums or psychics, and I bridled at those who said my mother was “watching over” me. Maybe other mothers did such a thing, but not mine.

I promise you that this piece isn't nearly as negative as the above excerpt makes it seem. I just didn't want to spoil anything.