How is it a good thing?
It’s the hardest question I’ve ever answered. It’s also the most transformative.
“How is it a good thing?” a friend asked me just two months after Dad died.
Her yoga class had just ended. I’d been unable to make it through Savasana without bawling and still hadn’t stymied my tears following class.
“It’s so sad!” I remember choking out at her in the lobby.
“What’s so sad about it?” she asked.
Dumbfounded I said, “He was so young.”
Little did I know she was just getting warmed up with her line of questioning.
“How is it a good thing?”
“What?!” I spluttered, all tears and snot and saliva.
“How is it a good thing?” she repeated.
“How’s it a good thing that he’s dead?!”
I thought the question was crazy. But then again I was going batshit in her business. Rather than dismiss the question and continue down the victim path, I considered it and gave the first answer that came to mind. “He’ll never suffer.” I said referring to an illness or condition he might have passed from in later years.
I was twenty-six at the time and in that fog-like sleepwalk stage of unexpected grief. But that night, I came up with an answer that still rings true. An answer I still hold to.
With Dad there was no withering away. No cancer yellow. No Alzheimer’s stripping him of his mind or ALS or stripping him of his body. He was perfectly healthy one second and dead the next. And while the side of the coin containing shock and abruptness sucks, the other side? Well, he’ll never suffer.
How is it a good thing is a question I’ve used again and again from more trivial matters – like when the doorbell rings during Miller’s nap – to circumstances that are life altering.
After Miller was born, I started holding my breath, so to speak. I survived his first year of life and was terrified of doing it again. However, I was willing to do it again because the difficulties of infant-hood are temporary, and I wanted a second child.
For over a year we tried for a second. Each month that passed, the physical pain increased and my ability to function normally decreased.
Pregnancy over pain. Pregnancy over pain. That’s what I held to month after month while hoping for a positive stick. But then the pain became too great…
Miller was just a little over two when we learned my tubes were beyond function or repair. I left the hospital with the name of a fertility specialist in hand and that familiar sense of shock. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sad. I was furious.
It’s not often I go off on God. That day, walking to my car, that’s exactly what I did. I like control way too much to have the size of my family determined for me. It was a serving of Grade A horseshit, and I wasn’t happy about it.
Then something equally surprising happened. Once the anger burned off, I felt relief. I didn’t have to keep my head in the game to mentally get through infant-hood again.
How is it a good thing that endometriosis rendered me infertile?
I started breathing again.
How is it a good thing?
It’s helped me embrace the various stages of being home with my boy. Any stage (or day for that matter) that’s proved difficult becomes a little easier knowing I’ll only ever go through it once.
Infant car seats? (Admit it, you’ve envied your grandparents for not having to lug them around.) Once.
Potty training? Uno.
Terrible twos? (Which, for the record, are so inaccurately named.) One time.
Threenager? (Referring to the temporary overtake of your precious babe by an irreverent emotional cyclone somewhat akin to teenagers minus the acne that generally occurs during the threes.) ONCE!
How is it a good thing? It’s gotten me through the seriousness of dark days and the moodiness of bad days. If I’m too perturbed to answer, I still find reassurance by the question’s presence; it’s a promise of something good. Or, at least, something better.
So I ask you, whatever it is you’re going through, How is it a good thing?
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