Updated: Apr 18, 2020
My son and I were curled up in bed when he dropped the bomb, "Mommy, why is all of this happening?"
Like most parents, my first instinct was to protect...to throw up the big emotional life air bag and pretend nothing's wrong and/or that everything will be just fine.
But that's literally impossible with this pandemic. There is no shielding. Instead, we are forced to sit in it together.
I decided to remind him of a conversation we had last summer.
We had just dropped Ella off for a week at sleepover camp. The three of us decided to get burgers at the local, outdoor burger place. It was a rare treat for my husband and I to have some 2-on-1 time with Mick.
As we sat eating our burgers and fries, Mick dropped one of his signature, thought-provoking questions on us (this kid has more thoughtful questions at the age of eight than most adults I know. Well, including myself.)
He said, "What was a time where something big didn't work out the way you wanted it to?" I thought for a moment, and my answer came rushing to me.
I told him this story.
It was October of my senior year of college. Aetna offered me a job in Connecticut when I graduated from college in April. I accepted. But then a few months later, I had doubts. I thought, 'Maybe it's better to stay closer to home.'
I decided to apply for jobs in Chicago.I got an interview with a company based in Chicago. While the interview seemed to go really well, I found out a few weeks later that they weren't going to offer me the job. I was devastated.
I paused, looked at Mick and asked, "Do you know what wouldn't have happened if I got that job in Chicago?"
He thought for a moment and then looked at me and said in a half statement / half question, "You wouldn't have met Daddy?"
I replied, "That's right. And if I hadn't met Daddy, do you know what that would mean?"
His face dropped as he soaked in one of the deepest thoughts he could have in his eight years on this earth. "Ella and I wouldn't have been born."
As Mick and I laid in bed, I recalled the story, and he remembered it vividly. I told him we rarely know why things happen when they happen. It usually takes days, months, and even many years before we realize the big Why that a life event has.
As we go through this major crisis - the tragedy it's brought to so many families, the financial duress it's bringing to people everywhere, the change in lifestyle that it's bringing to every human on the planet - none of us can truly know why.
And there is a why. In fact, there are many whys. Some you'll discover immediately; others you may not discover for decades.
If you're mindful enough, you'll be able to pull forward those whys sooner. When you're walking to your mailbox, look inside for whys. When you get on your next Zoom call, see if you can spot a why. Get curious on one new topic - I bet there's a why lurking there. Watch as new innovation is availed - many whys sprinkled there. Ask your kids what has been different for them in the last month. I guarantee you'll find a why there.
After Mick and I finished our conversation, we laid in silence for a few minutes. Then out of the silence Mick softly whispered, "Thank you for meeting Daddy."
One day, you too will be immersed in something beautiful and it will hit you too,Thank goodness we had the pandemic, you'll say. And, like me, you just may cry like a baby too.