The F Word

Faith. This word has come and gone throughout my life like a bad friend. From a young age, I never really bought into God or Heaven and Hell, but it seemed like an easy way to explain life after death. I’ve only come to realize this now as a father trying to explain death to my children. I never attended church besides Sunday School a few times with my cousins.

The first time I prayed to God, it was when my father was missing on Lake Erie. We had been searching for a few weeks or months (it’s hard to remember). But I do remember asking Him in my most vulnerable time to save my Dad and send him home safely. The next day, the police found a sandal in the water and asked the families to identify it. It was my sandal. My father must have been wearing them when they went out on the lake. I knew right then that my father was gone. So maybe God did answer me, just not the answer I was looking for. We found Dad’s body shortly after. The Indigenous way of having a funeral is to burn a continuous fire for three full days, walking around the fire within a circle, giving offerings to the creator and talking to the spirits of our ancestors. That year, there were many fires being burnt for my family members. This helped me with my grief. 

When my wife was pregnant, I would lie in bed and speak to my father. “You owe me, bud. Please make sure nothing goes wrong with this pregnancy.” Being a nervous first-time father, I felt comfort in knowing that even though he wasn’t around, maybe he was watching over us. I repeated this process for my second child. Worked like a charm. 

Fast forward years later to the accident, on the highway, screaming in my head at my father. “How could you do this? How could you let this happen?” I put all this blame on my Dad – I hated him. Then I shifted focus to God. I said whatever I needed to, to whatever God would listen and help us save my little girl. “What are you doing?” I’d think to myself. “You know there’s no God.” But I still wanted that feeling of hope. 

When we were in North Carolina living at the Ronald McDonald House in a very religious area of the country, I wanted to show my appreciation to the people around us who prayed to God. So my mom, my wife and I went to a gospel church. The minister said, “We have three new guests in our house today, and unfortunately it isn’t for a good reason.” He asked us to stand and come to the altar as he told the congregation about our daughter and tragic accident. Then he asked everyone to come up to the front. The church filled with cries of compassion and sorrow and they all reached out and touched our backs. We felt the warmth and love of thousands of hands, wanting to do whatever it took to take some of this pain away or bring us a miracle. These strangers, not knowing us from a hole in the wall, made us feel like family. I left the church that day with a better understanding of community and compassion through faith. 

I only reach out to the spirit world when I’m in crisis. Maybe that’s what faith is for me. I haven’t reached out to God, my father or the creator since the accident. Maybe that’s a good thing since I only resort to it during a crisis, or maybe it’s too little too late.


Daniel Burdis is a father of two and husband of one, who always strives to put family first. He will share tales of adventures throughout his life, but his main goal is to be the relatable father who makes questionable decisions!


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