The Answer to Every Question You Will Ever Ask in Life (And in Death)
It’s funny how answers can come to us, isn’t it?
As one of those rapid-fire serial interrogators, I never allow anyone to answer the first, second or even third question before I’m onto the fourth.
I’m not sure if it’s my natural inquisitiveness or lack of constraint in wanting to blurt out my own mental stream of consciousness, but it’s a habit I’ve never been able to shake.
This skill, if you can call it that, hasn’t been exercised outwardly for quite some time.
It’s not only been a three-month hiatus, but it’s taken a different form.
That’s because I’ve been using it as an introspective probe.
The moment I’d open my eyes in the morning, I’d start asking successive questions like…
What is the meaning of life?
Why do we pray for a safe flight when we are all going to eventually die?
Why have children if they’re going to die?
Why do we pray at all?
What are we doing on this Earth?
What is our purpose?
Notice I didn’t say that I asked myself these questions.
I would just spout them off, allowing them to plague my mind and my perspective for the remainder of the day.
I never once attempted to seek the answers. It was as if I was getting something out of planting a new series of mental grenades in my precious, impressionable brain every single day.
What I didn’t realize at the time of my doing this day in and day out was that if they went unanswered, they’d eventually explode.
But worse, like a cancer, they’d spawn new, debilitating mind bombs that would further poison the world around me.
If I passed an old truck, I’d think “How could this truck outlive my mother?” Yes, its inanimate nature allows it do so, but it didn’t love, nurture, and protect me like she did, so “how can it be here and not her?”
If I saw an old couple walking down the street hand in hand, I’d think “My mother will never be able to be old like them, so why do they get to and not her?”
If I saw a gold Honda Accord like hers, I’d glance in the driver’s seat to see if she was driving. When I discovered she wasn’t, I’d think “How can someone other than my sweet, amazing mother be driving the same car she did?”
These might seem like somewhat innocent observations for someone who is grief-stricken, but what I didn’t realize until recently was that my thoughts, my experiences, and my perspective have all been masked by fear.
And fear is a product of something we all crave, and that’s control.
Until a few months ago, I did everything in “my power” to pity myself from dawn to dusk, lamenting over my new, yet highly undesired motherless circumstances.
Nothing could pull me out of my funk. Not prayer, not tough love, not even Mr. Rogers for goodness sakes (though he and his adorable Daniel Tiger did help quite a bit).
Given the fact I had set out to help those “have a good mourning” shortly after my mother’s death, I felt like a total hypocrite.
I thought I had reached my wit’s end until one of the most beautiful experiences of my life happened yesterday on March 12, 2019.
And it occurred in one of the most unassuming places on the planet – a dingy, not-so-rosy public bathroom at Penn Station in New York City.
I had arrived on the Acela Express 1260 at approximately 12:47pm. I was feeling a bit uneasy all alone in such a monstrous city, but having just binge-listened to Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love” audiobook on the train, I felt reborn.
As I disembarked the train, the liter of water I had so willingly consumed aboard had reached its “final destination” too.
After circling the eatery inside the station, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw “WOMEN” in big bold blue letters.
Upon reaching the faucet to wash my hands, I noticed it had one of those dreaded motion-sensored soap dispensers.
I tried three out of the four, but could not for the life of me retrieve an ounce of suds.
I looked up to find an old woman at the fourth station. She greeted me with a warm smile, but as I asked her if she had any soap, I realized she didn’t speak English.
What she did next gave me an instant chill…
She gently took my hand and put it underneath her soap dispenser.
As it dropped a dollop of liquid Dial, she gave my arm a warm tug and then went on her merry way.
Something magical happened in that exchange.
It was in that moment the fear spell that had overtaken my life had finally been broken.
But most of all, it was in our embrace that every single one of my questions had been answered simultaneously.
The answer to all questions I or you will ever ask in this life…
And that answer is love.
Though no words were spoken, I could feel this mysterious woman’s unconditional love seep into every atom of my body.
Just a few months earlier, this woman would’ve been one of those same people I’d condemn for having the opportunity to grow old.
But it was as if her loving touch was my own mother telling me “I’m fine, I’m always with you, and I love you.”
This story is ever so reflective of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. His purpose in doing so was not to be recognized but it was to spread love.
With this woman’s gentle caress of my hand, it was as if the Holy Spirit had washed away my hurt and told me, “You’ve suffered enough. You are loved now and for all eternity.”
I had started so many new blog posts, but all of them boasted of a death.
And that death was mine.
I would glorify the way I had been acting, unconsciously seeking praise for my own self-analysis of my sad, sad life.
The only praise I seek now is that I have been reborn into a life surrounded by love.
As I gaze outside my window at New York’s cityscape, I see nothing but love.
I see a city that was built by human hands with the purpose of establishing a loving home for its residents and visitors.
I must admit I’ve never felt more alive than I do today – and the reason for that can only be the rediscovery of the most important thing we can share, express, give, send, you name it...
And that’s love.
If you can do anything today that’s worth doing, please spread love wherever you go.
It can come in many forms – a smile, a warm embrace, a helping hand.
When you give love, love comes back to you.
As The Beatles ever so eloquently sang, “Love is All You Need.”
And I can attest that it really is.
Now that I’ve found it again, I’m holding on and never letting go.
Because it’s in that love, my mother lives on, or should I say she “loves” on, and that’s worth living for.