After years of contemplating, I finally found it. I finally unearthed what seemed like a great mystery. I drove home late last night after a long day of work, and like Zeus’ bolt it struck me. I was awe-inspired, I was elated, and I finally felt healed.
Nearly 15 years ago, I was declared in remission of cancer, but anyone afflicted by its pain understands that to heal is an entirely different process. Why had I been stricken with such disease? Why had my life changed radically in what seemed like only a moment? Since my teenage years, I have given speeches, written essays, and engaged tirelessly in conversations with loved ones, strangers, and anyone in between in an effort to soothe my soul, spread infectious encouragement, and understand why this happened to me. I even majored in English studies as a college undergraduate because I thought doing so would provide me a platform to write about my challenges, delve deeply into humanities courses and subsequent discussions, and study literature in a way that might help me communicate my pains. And shortly after 11 p.m. on March 1, 2017, the answer, whether gifted by a god-like figure or dropped from the sky with a veil of anonymity, pierced my heart and gave me solace. I had experienced cancer to marry my wife and father my son. It sounds ridiculous–even conspiracy-laden, I know. But I promise you, my life would have likely taken a far different trajectory had I not been beaten down by what seemed like a devastating blow. And without such a force, I may have never learned lessons of strength, vulnerability, compassionate, love, and kindness. My family had certainly done their part to impress these characteristics upon me, and they still do, but a person ultimately needs to see their own way to the values they will hold near to their heart. Had I never been able to learn these lessons in the manner that I did, I may have never seen these very same qualities in my wife, and we may have never dated, split up, rediscovered one another, become engaged, gotten married, and conceived our beautiful boy.
Only two weeks after his birth, I cannot imagine life any differently. I used to dread the 45 minute drive home from work on Wednesday night after a 15-16 hour day, but last night’s ride was different. Last night I was excited when thinking that I would arrive home to see Tara rocking with him in the nursery, and instead of unwinding with a beer, I was happy to kiss her and hold him and smile. I wouldn’t be this type of man if I hadn’t been given a glimpse of how awful life could feel, because once I knew the depths of the human experience, I understood that I wanted to rid pain from my life and the lives of others as much as possible. Yet while protecting others can only go so far, love is endless. And with the birth of our child, my wife and I have discovered a love for each other and our son that I did not know existed, and this is why I suggest that I finally found the answer to the question that has plagued me for so long. Why had I been at the doorstep of death on multiple occasions as a young man when I wanted nothing more than a summer with my friends? Why me? Why then?
It took far longer than I had hoped to recognize what I now perceive to be the answer to my greatest question, and what I’ve learn is that just because life ain’t fair doesn’t mean it ain’t tryin’ to tell you something. Sometimes you need to have your ass handed to you in order to realize that you were meant to stand tall. Sometimes you need to momentarily submit to the will of the world and survive its wrath before unleashing your own. Just don’t let an ass-whooping keep you down–find out why it happened and what it means.