Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everything happens for a reason ... sort of

My dad: He got cooler later in life, but not much.
My dad's been dead for half my life, and it really, really sucks.

It goes without saying. Or, at least, it should. But it never seems to, does it? "Time heals." "You're stronger for it." "Everything happens for a reason."

No, no, no. Especially the last one. Everything happens for a reason? Please. My father did not leave this life, extremely prematurely, for any reason. Or at best, as the result of stupid, pointless events. Still, nearly everyone, since the day he died, seems to want to tell me it happened "for a reason." The wost offenders usually include some variation of "Don't worry; everything sorts itself out" along with the platitude.

Before you think I'm a horrible, horrible person who secretly hates all your comforting words, let me explain. I do take comfort in the fact that so many people care, still, after all this time, and that's the main thing. So thank you, truly. However, I think it's more comforting to not assume reason and direction. I prefer to find it, or better, to make it.

If my dad hadn't died, I probably wouldn't have taken the precise career path I had, I wouldn't be married to my husband, and owing to the circuitous interconnectedness of things, my son probably wouldn't exist. Really, everything does affect everything that comes after it in one's life, to some degree or another. But you can go crazy assigning meaning like that. He didn't die so that these things could happen. He lived, and with my mom raised me, so that they could happen.

I honestly don't usually remember the anniversary of when my father died. I always remember his birthday. He lived for a reason, and it had nothing to do with predestination or guiding spirits. He lived for the reasons that he created every day. He was a father, son, husband, brother, teacher, coach, fantasy baseball commissioner, unabashed Beach Boys and Jim Croce lover, sarcastic joke teller, conservative, and pain in the ass. He did what he did, and to hell with anyone else and their idea of cool. (See that photo at the top? I never again want to hear you say "Oh, yeah, my family is full of dorks too," unless it reaches that level of dorkitude. I mean, seriously.) He was a whole ton of other things. And none of it just happened. He was, determinedly and perpetually, the reason.

He was never big-time into nature, but I am. Yesterday, I was chasing birds. It was early enough that the date hadn't really registered. After an hour or two of attempted birding, miles and miles off course, I pulled to a stop beside his baseball field. Yesterday would have been his 53rd birthday.

The birds didn't guide me there. There wasn't a mystical force pulling me. I probably already remembered in the back of my mind what day it was. But it has meaning anyway. It happened for a reason, and by "it" I mean my recognition of the moment. I assigned meaning to the moment. I couldn't stop smiling, all the way home. The radio seemed to play the most pleasingly cheesy songs I'd heard in ages, and I thought of him as I bellowed along with the lyrics.

I returned to the field last night with my son. We brought crayons; paper; cameras; a really old, really dorky photograph; and an old clarinet.

David plays the clarinet now, and that certainly happened for a reason. One other thing that my dad was was a clarinet player, and a good one (his failed attempts at circular breathing notwithstanding). My son now plays his old clarinet. I couldn't possibly be prouder. David played the clarinet at Brian Hosey Field, we did some rubbings of the plaque, and he ran and ran around the field until he could barely breathe and the light had faded entirely.

My father, whatever and wherever else he may or may not be, most definitely lives on through us. He's behind my humor, love, aggravation, creativity, strengths, and weaknesses. It really has been a while now. We have, of course moved on, if not gotten "over" anything. I'm honestly startled sometimes to realize it's been days and days since I've really thought about him. And then I stop. And breathe. And think. And maybe write; or sing, loudly and badly; or read a stupid comic book; or vociferously argue a point about which no one cares. No one tells me to. No one makes me do it. Possibly, no one's watching over me. I choose to do what I do. But he did teach me.

He didn't die for a reason, but he's gone, and we deal. It's made a little easier by the fact that he lived for so many reasons, and we nurture those every day.


deathwriter said... Best Blogger Tips

What a lovely post about your dad!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Nice piece, Kim. I'm working on a father memoir so it's nice to read these kinds of essays about dads. Thanks!

Christina Wilsdon said... Best Blogger Tips

Reading your post was very timely. I lost my beloved father exactly one month ago today. Fortunately I have not had anybody say that this happened for a reason, because it most certainly did not. It helped to write about him.

Sarah Capanna said... Best Blogger Tips

I'll always have great memories of your dad. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to be a student in one of his 6th grade classes. Thanks for sharing!

Losing Brownies said... Best Blogger Tips

The everything happens for a reason comment still bothers me when people refer to my brother's death. I know they are trying to comfort me and my family, but I really don't understand why that particular comment is suppose to bring me comfort.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, everyone.

Christina, I'm glad I could be of some small help. I remember one person shortly after my father died said simply, "I know this is excruciating. Let me know if you need anything." He was only an acquaintance, but I think that was just about my favorite response, especially in the direct aftermath.

Kevin J. Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Excellent piece, Kim; it says and explains a lot of what I still feel about Brian's life and death. I also agree with not wanting people to tell me what to feel or how things will evolve, and yes, Brian lived for a reason, not died for one.

And damn it, I have a photo like the one you posted of Brian, holding my sousaphone. If I can find it, I will post it some day.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, Kevin.

And you absolutely should post the photo!

Chunky Mama said... Best Blogger Tips

This really is a lovely post.

I had a miscarriage a few years ago, and hearing "everything happens for a reason" not only did NOT help, it just made me angry at the person(s) trying to comfort me.

FireMom said... Best Blogger Tips

I hate "everything happens for a reason." No. No it doesn't. I have a visceral response to that line and it's usually wanting to kick people.

But I love this piece. A lot. And your dad -- a year older than mine who also rocked the clarinet -- was a cool dude.

Scary Mommy said... Best Blogger Tips

I love this post. I hate the saying ""Everything happens for a reason" too. No, something happened and we deal with it. Like we have to.

Whit said... Best Blogger Tips

Powerful stuff. The picture of your son in front of your father's is fantastic.

Teresa said... Best Blogger Tips

oh..this is such a powerful post! I love the photos of your son with his clarinet in front of the one of your dad...there is so much beauty in that! I also have never understood why people say "It happened for a reason", it actually makes me kind of angry. Thanks for writing about it...