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Like a good little Evangelical, I spent much of my childhood worried about going to heaven. Though, it wasn’t all bad. The idea that I’d get to see my little sister who passed away as a baby was comforting.

When I left Christianity in my early adult years, I had no trouble ditching the Bible, and all the arbitrary rules it bound me to. And while the religious guilt stuck around like a bad rash, I was pretty much able to separate myself from the belief system that had raised me.

Except for the afterlife part.

It’s really only reared its confusing head since I started editing columns at OnlySky. Until then, I was perfectly happy believing in some form of reincarnation, my rationale being that there’s no possible way I’d have spent my entire life with my four children to never see them again. Surely life wasn’t that unfair.

Narrator: Sorry, lady. It kind of is that unfair.

And, to never see my sister again? Not possible.

I can still be nonreligious and hope that I get to see my kids again in another life. If that’s what gets me through my day with my mental health intact, then that’s what I need to believe.

So, as much as I’ve spent these last twenty years avoiding pretty much all religion, there’s one part of it I can’t let go of. Sure, I’ve moved a little east in the one small part of it that I’m holding onto, but I’m holding onto it nonetheless.

And that wasn’t really a problem for me. It soothed my anxious brain, which has been catastrophizing on hyperdrive since the pandemic started.

But then I start editing posts by atheist, humanist, and secular writers on a site that’s focused specifically on this one life.

I mean, the name is OnlySky. Not OnlySky, But Maybe You’ll Come Back as The Johanssens.

And well, as someone who has won several awards in all-or-nothing thinking, it’s put my already tired brain through the wringer.

Until yesterday, as I was crying my perimenopausal bathtub tears, and decided, I can still be nonreligious and hope that I get to see my kids again in another life. If that’s what gets me through my day with my mental health intact, then that’s what I need to believe.

I won’t get thrown out of the secular, nonreligious club for doing it.

Do I really believe that I’ll see my kids after I die? No. And I certainly will not be handing out small booklets or knocking down anyone’s door to try to get them to believe right along with me.

But does it give me a little solace in these difficult times? Abso-freaking-lutely.

I have to wonder if that wasn’t how all of the afterlife, heaven, reincarnation, don’t worry it’s not over when it’s over stuff started.

Yes, yes, I know part of it was about trying to explain death and get people to be good with veiled threats of terrible hot places where they will burn.

But hey, maybe it was just a mom, thinking about the love she has for her children, doing her best to find a way to make herself feel better about having to leave them behind.

Kristen Chase is a writer, author, and senior editor at OnlySky. Her debut novel and children's book will be released in 2023.