Growing up my family never took my brother and I to Church. I remember my mom saying she grew up religious, but we never really talked about it. Nor did we ever really talk about religion in our household. I find it strange now looking back at it, but maybe my parents just wanted my brother and I to have a choice on the matter. Either way it’s safe to say my family wasn’t very religious. Sure, I had friends, girlfriends, and relatives that all went to Church on Sunday’s. Hell, even I went a couple times, but I just felt uncomfortable and couldn’t fully grasp the concept that was being preached to me. I would sit there as the pastor would talk about the word of God and the Gospel. The teachings of Jesus and the 10 commandments. I was a lot younger then, so in the Church’s defense I didn’t really pay much attention. It seemed like a wonderful idea though. The thought there is Heaven where all our loved ones gather in this paradise to meet after death. The idea of Hell keeping everyone from committing wrong-doings otherwise you burn for eternity. It was strange to me, so it didn’t take very long till I just stopped thinking about the matter all together and just moved on with my life. It just wasn’t reaching me on a deeper level like it does with most.

Once I stopped thinking about it long enough, there came a time where I began to question it all. Is there really a God? Or are we just a spec in this mass universe we call space. Do our choices really matter? Or is it possible that everything is irrelevant. Does good come from the belief and worship of God? Or is it how we are raised and brought up in the world. What is it in our brains that makes us have this belief for something bigger than all of us? It eventually got to the point where I gave up. I chose to believe we’re all just consciously making choices for ourselves. Whether it be for good or bad, right or wrong. Just collectively learning lessons from the choices we make and analyzing the outcome of those choices to prepare for future decision making. I decided that not everything was happening for a higher purpose. That there wasn’t any type “God” influencing my life the way so many people believe God does so. I thought that if I’m responsible for my choices and actions than God must not be around. There were no signs for me that pointed to the belief there was something or someone out there looking out for me, let alone every living being.

It was only two weeks after my conscious decision to become what most people call “atheist”, that my uncle Steve passed away. He was battling alcoholism for as long as I could remember. We never did talk much, and I didn’t know much about him. But I could tell he loved all his family members. He would never do anything to purposely hurt or upset them. Maybe he was just raging his own war against God and the only way to escape from his reality was to keep finding the bottom of that bottle. It was in his last few months I could barely recognize him anymore. He developed two forms of cancer and looked like the fight wouldn’t carry on much longer. He was the palest I’ve ever seen a person and there was no energy flowing through his body anymore. He was admitted to the hospital and induced into a coma shortly after the last time I saw him. I don’t even remember the last few words he or I said to each other. Just glimpses of him and I at our Thanksgiving or Christmas parties. Almost like a photo gallery in my head. My father and my uncle Mike stayed with him every day that he was in the hospital. I probably should have visited and to this day I have no idea why I didn’t. But one of the strangest things that happened to me was the morning my uncle Steve passed away. It was the night before and I had had a dream about him. I found myself in this beautiful bright green forest with the sun rising farther than where the trees ended. I felt peace but was also conscious enough to wonder why I was there. I never had that feeling before, being awake inside a dream. It was only what felt like a minute before my Uncle Steve appeared. He had a bright glow to him, and he was heathier than I had ever seen him in his whole life. My Uncle didn’t say anything, but I felt his embrace, almost as if he was telling me he is okay. It felt like he was at peace with everything in this world and whatever world he was in also brought peace to him. He seemed comfortable, no longer in pain or fatigue. The last thing I remember was his smile before he faded away and I woke up. There was something about his smile I could never really describe. The dream didn’t last very long but the part that is strange to me is I remember waking up around 7:30am to text my Dad about the dream I had had. Only to have already received a text from him saying that my Uncle was pronounced dead at 7:07am on July 17th. My Dad and I both were caught of guard by my dream. But it really seemed to make my Dad feel a lot better about the loss of his brother Steve. As if my dad was thinking the same thing I was. Maybe there is something more after this.

Some people believe in coincidences and I guess at the time I did too. This strange phenomenon seemed to put a damper on my theories and beliefs that there was nothing else after this. It just seemed too surreal to me to just be a random dream that a person has. I remember it so vividly like I just watched it on a video. This dream began to alter my state of mind. I started to open myself towards the belief that there can be a God or a spiritual life after this. That everything that has or will happen to us is meant for something bigger than just ourselves. To this day I have still only read about four passages out of the Bible or any other religious text. I’m not saying that I have become a man of God, but I do believe that there is more to life than just living and dying. I felt my Uncle was in a better place and maybe he wanted to show me a glimpse into this peaceful paradise he found himself. I still question as to why he visited me and not my Father or his Brother. All I know is that whether this dream be a coincidence or some sort of spiritual lesson, it taught me that I need to have faith in something more than myself. I’m still on the path of learning to believe in God but if it weren’t for that dream, I’d still be on the search for meaning in this world. I believe this dream has helped me find it.