May 25, 2006 | 3 comments

I was working on a post and wanted to quote Cancerbaby’s astounding post about Static, which I think is one of the best summaries of what it feels like to be an atheist I’ve ever read. (As some of you know, her blog “Cancer, Baby” is a chronicle of her struggles with infertility and desire to start a family. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly after trying to conceive her first child.)

Here is the quote from her post about static that I was looking for:

Nevertheless, I would imagine that what ultimately drove [Elliot Smith] to kill himself was that strangely simultaneous discordance and inertia, that static, that encroaches on and threatens the meaning that we, all of us, are pulling and prying from the jaws of our joy and our sadness. Beyond that possible insight, there is little left to say.

And so, despite all the sense I’ve tried to make of my life over the last two years — and despite all the sense that Elliott Smith fans have tried to make of his death over the last two years — this requiem can’t and won’t create meaning. Perhaps its only merit is that it was written at all. Because sometimes, there’s no meaning to be made about the subject of cancer and disease, or the subject of depression and suicide, or the subject of dying young. Sometimes, the static is all that there is.

She’s an amazing writer, so I spent some time surfing through her archives and came across this crushingly beautiful homage to her husband. Click through and read the whole thing. It’s one of the best blog entries I’ve ever read.

Then I clicked to the current posts to see what’s new, see if there was any news on the adoption front. I am surprised by how much it affected me to read that she died a couple weeks ago, two days before Mother’s Day. The last post, written by a friend, simply states, “My phone just rang. It was cancerbaby’s husband. ‘I guess you know why I’m calling, ‘ he said. She died this morning. She was thirty-three. Her name was Jessica.”

Please pray for Jessica and for her husband.


  1. Colleen

    I should have known better than to click on the link. I am sitting here tearing up. The post about her husband was beautiful beyond belief. But I was equally moved by the comments written in response to her friend’s last post. Jessica touched a lot of people deeply and their tributes were very moving.

    An amazing young woman whose life really was too short.

  2. SteveG

    Eternal rest Grant unto her O Lord.

    Bring peace and comfort into the midst of tragedy for those whose life she most deeply touched.

    We ask this through Christ our lord, amen.

  3. Tony

    Beautiful writing.

    I have always had little patience with atheists, especially fundamentalist atheists who “prostlytize” and try and “convert” me. I have generally treated such people with a very uncharitable attitude of disdain.

    While reading Jessica’s posts, I began to understand, at least on an intellectual level, what being an atheist requires of the adherent.

    I take the existance of God for granted. God has walked with me my entire life, even at those times when I pushed Him away and ignored Him. I know, deep in my heart, that should I die, there is something wonderful waiting for me. I don’t know what it is, but I know that God is there, so it has to be really good.

    I am now thinking about what it must be like to be atheist, and contemplating your own demise. Looking at the end of your life, and knowing that that’s going to be it.

    You may even entertain the possibility of God, but if you are secure in your atheist “faith” you push it aside as “weakness”, and dispise yourself for even entertaining the idea of some benevolent “sky daddy” who is going to make things wonderful for you for the rest of eternity.

    This is a profoundly sad thought for me. And in the case of Jessica, it’s not her death I mourn, because death is simply a doorway to a different kind of life. I pray for the endless mercy of God, and I pray that Jessica has the opportunity to accept it.

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