I've been thinking a lot about loss lately. And life. And the way those two things intermingle.
One of my least favourite sayings is that everything happens for a reason. This is ludicrous. Many things happen for no reason, with no benefit to anyone. "Everything happens for a reason" is used to justify some pretty inhumane stances in life like, for example, forced pregnancy for rape victims.
No, I don't care for that one bit. People's hearts get broken, sometimes arbitrarily and through betrayal because they dated a jerk. Rainforests are destroyed, not for any nobler use of the land. People are murdered because bad people exist. Sometimes there is no higher purpose or reason because the world we live in is chaotic and random shit goes down.
There is no proof of any higher being orchestrating the details of our existence, formulating a divine cause and effect to bring us joy. I mean, hell. People are being slaughtered en masse in Sierra Leone, starved in the Sudan and raped to death in Congo. I fail to see how any of that is happening for a reason.
Actually, it's sort of a privileged belief that our lives in this hemisphere are somehow fated and organized into better things after pain when such mindless, godless suffering is happening elsewhere for no rhyme or reason. Frankly, life is a crapshoot, and opportunities in many ways are luck of the draw, sometimes boiling down to where and when and to whom you were born.
Having said that, I think of my own losses. I mention my mother a lot because to date she's the single greatest loss of my life. I was visiting my aunt in Vancouver and she was musing over how things would be different if my mother had lived.
Very different. Undoubtably better in some ways because I think the world was a better place with her in it. But my life would be unrecognizable and I have no idea where I'd be right now and if I'd be truly better off in every respect. That's impossible to gauge.
For instance, I inherited enough money to leave my hometown and go to college in the GTA without taking out a loan, and then taking whatever program I was qualified for without concern for paying for it. Starting out life without debt changed the course of my life.
I moved into downtown Toronto with only an internship and no job and was able to sustain myself for half a year while I looked for good work, while also taking a three-week trip to Europe alone, something that helped me grow as a person. This changed me as well. Without that money, I would have had to move back home to my mom and I likely then would not have found my job, the job I still hold today, and all the enhancements to my quality of life that has brought me.
I thus wouldn't have met my first love (In Toronto) and had that meaningful two-year experience. That break-up coincided at the perfect time to reconnect with the Dude and here we are, married and expecting a child. I'm happy, contented and comfortable. There is no way I can see how I'd have married the Dude had this chain of events (which also shaped who I am and taught me valuable lessons) not occurred.
Had my mother lived, my aunt would not have moved to Vancouver, something she's always firmly maintained. Thus her children would not have moved there, something they did to stay together. My cousin met her husband in Vancouver. Their lives have altered forever too.
A person's death has a ripple effect that spreads wide and far and changes people and their lives forever, making permanent diversions from the path they were taking. When those paths are negative, it's easy to pinpoint the cause of suffering. When they're positive it's tempting to say it was all for a reason.
But no, I think it's simpler than that. I think that when we reach a healthy place with our loss we're able to manage to find joy in our new situation and get on with the business of life. My mom didn't die so that I could marry the Dude one day and have a baby with him. There was no cosmic force behind that. That's what "Everything happens for a reason" thinking suggests. Rather, after my mom died, I made a point of living the new life I was given as well as I could and this is the result.
So, as much as I want my mother here for the birth of my baby, I have to accept the reality that this specific baby I'm having wouldn't be here had my mother lived. My baby, the one I'm having in this life, can't coexist with my mother. The loss of one lead me indirectly to the creation of the other. In another reality, where my mother lived, I may have met someone else and had a different child, one who would have been meant to meet his or her maternal grandmother. But that's not the life I'm living.
I don't think my mother died for any particular reason or for a grander scheme. But what I do know is that every beautiful thing that happens to me in life that I couldn't guarantee would've happened had she lived serves to reconcile me to my life the way it is and the loss I suffered. It wasn't all for a reason, but one can still find meaning in one's pain.