Things Happen For A Reason

This past April my dad passed away, and yesterday would’ve been his eighty-first birthday. To honor him, I decided to write this article about that old familiar “things happen for a reason” cliché, and the wisdom hidden and lost behind the words.

A Profound, Life-Changing Experience

My father died of colon cancer. He’d been battling it for the last four years, and this past January was told he had only a few weeks to live. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him so I brought him home to live with me and my family. I didn’t want him to go to a hospice or die alone. I wanted to do one last thing for my dad–to care for him until the end.

At first, I didn’t grasp the severity of what was happening, but soon after my dad came home, I began to do something I no longer did—think about the past and the future. Up until then, I had learned to live in the now, but under the circumstances, I found it hard to stay grounded in the present.

Inevitably, I was drawn to dwell on the past and all that I should’ve, could’ve, or didn’t do for my dad. And, of course, thinking about the future, worrying about funeral services, wills, and about my mom’s wellbeing after my dad was gone.

Living With What Is

I couldn’t live with “what was.” I had learned to live in this manner and had for a while, but this time I wasn’t able to do it. I just couldn’t surrender to what was happening and refused to accept my dad’s imminent death. I wanted things to be different, I wanted him to live. And I knew, just knew, that this resistance or refusal to accept was pushing me out of the present moment, back to the past and into the future, making my pain more intense, making it harder to care for my dad.

Lessons learned

Everything does happen for a reason, regardless of what it is or how painful it may be. Someone once said that nature is rather frugal and doesn’t waste anything. I agree. Every experience has a purpose, even if we don’t see it. Each of these experiences has to happen, is part of the totality of things, and contributes to our personal evolution.

It was hard to see at the time the reason or purpose behind my father’s suffering and death. When he was still able to speak, and up until the last time he uttered his last words, he apologized to me for “everything I had to do for him and the time it took to do it.”

What he didn’t know and is important for me to acknowledge, is that everything he went through wasn’t in vain, and that he gave me so much more that I gave him.    

Through this experience, my resolve to remain in the now was put to the test. And as painful as it was watching my dad slowly drift away, it gave me the opportunity to practice and cultivate compassion, tolerance, patience, and increase my capacity for suffering.

Learn to Embrace

 

Behind every life situation we face, we are given a chance to learn and grow.  And, from personal experience, it usually is something that we need to know at that particular moment in time. When we truly embrace the knowing that everything does happen for a reason, we begin to see that there’s really nothing for us to do; no need to ask why;  no need to force solutions;  and that all we have to do is simply allow God or the universe to reveal its purpose.   

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Stand Still

Stand Still  

You must stand still, silent, and then just wait.

Wait for the light to shine again.

For in the light, it’ll surely emerge,

The wisdom that’ll come to dissipate  

Whatever troubles you may have.

It’ll do its job, and then move on.

For it can’t stay, but you know that.

It will come back, time after time,

As you have seen,  

But now you know, you must stand still,

Or risk not hearing when it arrives.  

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