10/23/2014 02:00 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2014

Don't Tell Me to Pray

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On April 1, 2006 my middle son, Adam, fell into a coma. He had been sick for about a week with what doctors perceived to be a virus. Although my mommy gut told me that something else was happening inside of his body, I took care of him from the vantage point that he would soon get better. When he seemed to be improving, I sent him off to his dad's house for the weekend. Twenty-four hours later, I received the call that nearly crippled me. Adam suddenly spiked a fever of one hundred and five degrees and was having grand mal seizures.

Upon arriving at the hospital, I knew things were horribly wrong. He was still convulsing and looked as if death was just a heartbeat away. I fell to my knees, unable to stand or breathe. Why was this happening to such an awesome kid? He was so full of life just a week before, playing basketball in the driveway and preparing to try out for the high school team.

Within hours he fell into a deep coma. We were told that he would not survive the night and that if he did, death would surely come within days. They were nearly certain he had some form of untreatable encephalitis. The news was devastating. But I never lost hope. Adam had always been a fighter. He did survive the first night and remained in a coma for almost a week.

Throughout this time, visitors kept instructing me to pray. If I prayed, he would be saved. If I found God, he would help me stay strong. Prayer was therapy. God was good. I heard it all that week. But I never prayed. Not because I wasn't concerned or fearful, but because I don't pray. I'm not religious, nor do I believe in a higher power. I chose to walk a different path many years ago. My faith rests in my spiritual connection to my children. In them I find strength and peace. They are what lifts me up and makes me believe there is still good in this world.

This doesn't discount the fact that I've always been respectful of other religions and believe that religion is a very personal choice, one that varies from person to person. During the week that we came closest to losing my son, I didn't feel the same level of respect. When a family member asked to bring in his minister to sit with my son and pray, I allowed it. I allowed it because he was someone close to my son. He believed that prayer would help Adam pull through and I respected that wish. I didn't scoff or denounce his choice to believe in God. Yet I was later told that "I had to come to peace with my maker." It would be the only way for Adam to survive. What right did anyone have to suggest that their God was my maker?

My choice not to believe in a mainstream god does not make me a horrible person. I do believe in separation of church and state. However, I don't believe it's necessary to remove the mention of God from our printed currency or that it needs to be eliminated from the Pledge of Allegiance. These are historical symbolisms. To me, it's no different than the Statue of Liberty standing firm in the middle of New York Harbor or the bald eagle representing freedom. I just want the choice to exercise my personal beliefs in whatever manner I see fit. This includes the choice not to pray or to find solace in a god.

Despite the warnings from both strangers and friends, I knew Adam would survive in lieu of prayer. I knew that my faith in Adam and my strength as a mother would help him overcome all odds. He was finally diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome and made a long, but full recovery. Through the darkness, he remembers hearing my voice willing him to live. We are living proof that it is okay to be non-believers.

So please respect my wishes, and don't tell me to pray.

Six months after learning how to walk and talk all over again, Adam was back on the court. His three-point shot never looked better.