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The Beginning

June 19, 2022

The dawn comes hard these late spring mornings. It’s power is loud, I cannot sleep in its transformation. Beginnings are both singular moments and universally repeated. I think that is why silly rituals like Father’s Day happen.

I went to two gatherings last week. Two lives ended, then months later, the gatherings happened. Their lives were long over, one prematurely, one miraculously delayed, both without culpability of cause – or reason – applied to each.

The body that was a miracle at birth simply could not sustain the reason it existed, life. Nothing was done to it. What it was could not be any longer.

The gatherings had the sadness, the love, the loss of those lives fully present. But they had children, too. Not everyone has them, so death is often without a child’s perspective, but the loving loss of a child from their maker is, well, confounding. The words used reflected the awe and devotion of a child, now without a living focus.

That is why some so deeply care about public commemoration. We were all made, and would not be here without the makers of us, so like looking at the dawn, we think about what made us.

Those meeting at the rituals surrounding the death of the loved are comforted by commonality, and just a bit terrified at its inevitability. Upon my father’s death, I happened to be on a construction site. I had gotten notice that my father, seen just a couple of hours past, was dead.

Citing that I had to leave, to be with my mother, a framer grabbed my arm, looked into my eye, and said “No one gets out alive.”

Even each dawn will end. There was probably be a time of no dawns, anywhere, and may be again. Who knows? Who knows why parents carry the weight upon their children – even when long dead?

My parents did their best to create and sustain me, but could not be anyone other than what life, and their parents, made them. I do not think we ever had a Mother’s or Father’s Day in our house. I had no birthdays celebrated beyond a $20 bill after the age of 5. But that place of coping, by everyone, did not end end with their death.

Perhaps we are all coping. The extreme happiness of the lives of the families I heard at the remembering of the lives lost last week was set in the coping of loss, but more, of ignorance.

The faithful knows there is more than coping, the atheist knows there is not. Both live in complete ignorance of any daily purpose beyond the living of life. Meaning can be knowing the love of God, or in the wholeness of your own worth – but either truth cannot know why we are here.

We cannot know many whys beyond what we learn in school and human transaction. But we cannot escape the dawn of seeing a pattern that we cannot control. We had parents, we did not ask for them. Some of us created children, and they are, wholly, beyond our control.

So we create places like Father’s Day. A place we can control, because we made it. But we did not make the dawn, which controls us, or the sunset.

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