The day I lost my faith

I am a serving Garda in Dublin and this is the day when I finally lost the last bit of faith I had.

Growing up I was not part of a very religious family. Christmas, weddings and funerals was about the extent of it but we still had our communions and confirmations as “we are Catholic after all” which to me sums up most of Ireland. Were Catholic because well, our parents told us we were.

However I found god to some extent during a bad period in my life. Was I praying to god or talking to an invisible ‘air fairy’ as I hear smug atheists say? I don’t know but I know it helped. I had faith that people were good and that there was a higher power watching over us. Did everything always go our way? No but enough did.

Then I joined An Garda Siochana. I wanted to be a Garda, I craved it, to help people and make a difference and God made it happen. Time moved on however and I saw dysfunctional families, sadness in children’s eyes and good people look at me and ask “Why me?” because there was no reason for that scumbag to randomly attack them, they couldnt understand the motive. I saw normal people get blind drunk and punch and kick each-other for no reason other than some supposed look and I saw my colleagues go two ways; drink to forget or to join em cause we sure weren’t beating em or give it up for good and not touch a drop. Theres no such thing as a sensible drinker in Irish society as far as I can see but I still believed because for every bad thing, I saw something good or at least I could explain the bad, it was humans being bad, it was at the hand of people that other people suffered.

Then I went to work one morning, a quiet morning or at least we all hoped. I was in the car as the observer and after only 10 minutes we received a call. As soon as the controller spoke I knew it was bad, when the call starts with “I’m sorry about this….” we aren’t being sent for a Prisoner meal. What was the call? A DOA, dead on arrival to the local hospital. A bad call but ones we get from time to time. You see every death is investigated  to some degree depending on the circumstances and these ones are no different. The problem for me was that the hospital in our area is a children’s hospital. The staff are fantastic but it doesn’t make it any easier, I had to go and speak to a couple who were being told their child was dead.

So I did, I spoke with them and I offered my condolences which I doubt they even heard, I brought them to see the body and I stayed with them while the formalities were taken care of and during all this I felt not only out of place but completely and utterly useless. What could I possible say or do to explain this?

At the end the cause of death was SID, Sudden Infant Death. In other words, absolutely no known reason other than ‘Gods will’ and that’s what broke me, the only explanation was that God chose to take the life of a 2 year old child, an innocent that had done nothing to anyone. God chose to leave these people in the pit of despair for no apparent reason on Christmas morning.

To this day I still think of that couple going in to wake their son and getting no reply. The terror they must have felt and then that night, going home to a now empty house with children’s presents unopened and having no explanation why. So I lost my faith that morning, I still like to hope theres a higher power but a God that’s all loving and watching over us? Sorry, I can’t buy it.


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