It is late Sunday evening as I begin this post. I am relaxing on my reclining leather coach. It is quiet. No television. No music. The only noise is the clicking from my wireless keyboard and the hum of the refrigerator from the kitchen. I’m staring at the walls that I painted a few weeks ago. I have yet to decide what pictures or decorations should adorn them. Part of me is wondering if it really matters what goes up on these walls. Then my wondering broadens further to all of life, does it matter? My mind races to the words in Ecclesiastes, “all is vanity”. Is it? My mind flows to thoughts of my late wife. Late, what kind of term is that? I guess it’s simply a term to denote separation by death. Death, it is one of the few sureties of life. Returning now to my thoughts of vanity. Again, is it? It is a good question.
How does one measure whether life is vanity or not? Nearly eleven months have passed since Carrie died. How many lives have dramatically changed because of her passing? Some, mine for sure, and of course the boys. Probably our youngest’s most of all. But all of life moves forward, amazingly quick—whether one wants it to or not. Does this mean vanity? The New Testament writer, James, is right; life is but a vapor, appearing for a little while and then vanishing. Yet, unlike a vapor, one’s life leaves something behind. It impacts other’s lives. I see Carrie’s impact; it is on her friends, her children, on me. I’m still here. And life seems to matter.
So here I am, the dad of three boys; the youngest not yet a teenager. The youngest, the boy, he’s without a mother but not without a parent. That’s me. I’m the adult; I’m the one in charge. I’m duty bound to give him a new normal, a healthy normal. Not only bound by duty but by love. A love that originated from me and his mother, husband and wife. It’s a love toward him that springs from having a hand in creating him and bringing him into this world. He’s a part of me as much as he is a part of her. Our parts, those that have come from generations past and, now, have hope to go on for generations into the future. Our two parts translate into love. Love, a far more powerful motivator than duty alone will ever hope to become. A love ignited even before those first moments of life outside the womb; even before hearing the wail that only an infant can make and before catching a whiff of the baby’s breath that smells so sweet. It is a love that turns a father into a dad. So a dad I will continue to be not because of duty but because of love. And life seems to matter.
Two years have passed since the words “we think there is a mass” changed life as I knew it. What once seemed relatively orderly became completely disorderly. A bond that once seemed secure was in jeopardy. Vows that were once spoken began being lived out in new ways. It only takes a moment for life to change but in that moment life seems to matter.
A life once filled with certainty of purpose now is filled with ambiguity. The purposes found in the roles of life, those that once seemed so assured have now changed. Or have they? Perhaps they have in some ways but not in most. And because purpose remains, life matters.
The uncertainties of life may lead to feelings of ambiguity but life, even as brief as a vapor, surely matters.