So I have had to find a way to live in the unknown. I once had this idea that if I could make sense of my losses I would be able to find peace. If I could only understand why all this was happening, or figure out what I had done, or even what was being done, I could then close the uncertainty and reconcile the insanity of it all. 

Benjamin June 30 knowing whyI had to leave the echo chamber of “why?” It’s a senseless question with no answer, a riddle that ridiculed me daily. Why did I agree to the transfusion when Lydia was fighting for her life while giving birth to another life? Why did the blood industry not screen the blood with the tools they had at that time? Why did we live such fragile lives going from one specialist to another looking for what was wrong with Matt? Why did I have another child two years later and find five months after Bryan was born find out that Lydia, Matt and Bryan were HIV+? Why haunted me for years. Empty answers haunted me even longer. There was no answer. There was no rhyme. There was no reason. Nothing I found gave me the peace I was looking for or solace in the storms we faced.

“What did I do?” was my next question that gave no peace. In my belief system at that time I carried the residue of responsibility for their disintegrating lives and ultimate deaths. I must have done something to “deserve” this. It is not logical, but I thought that if there was something I had done, then perhaps there would be something I could do. Penitence. If I could figure out what I had done maybe I could save them. Maybe they would receive a reprieve. If I could trade places, if this was to hurt me, then hurt me. Let them go. If this was some kind of punishment, then mission accomplished. Now please let them live.

Empty words filling empty questions left me empty in my attempts to understand. I just wanted to know. I just wanted peace. I wanted to know why.

I no longer rely on what I know to give me peace. Peace has not come in discernable equations that fit neatly into textbooks. I searched so many belief systems looking for answers and in each excursion I came across the inevitable precipice between the known and the unknowable. The depths of my discontent with trite phrases and simplistic answers leading to “we just don’t know” was crushing. The glib answers catapulted me into the uknown.

I went to the unknown without belief, without questions, without answers, without barriers, without resistance, without expectations…. To find my way within the unknown, I had to go without all that I carried to the precipice. Unclothed I sat in the center of uncertainty with a broken heart, broken wide open.

What I knew melted and the unknowable rested gently in my release. I had no question. There was no need to know. Presence became my answer. Peace came. Peace comes.

I sit with people who ask why. I answer, “I don’t know.” It is not a response of resignation. It is not a trite, glib deflection of their pain and quest for peace. It is not an attempt to skirt the deepest hunger a human has to understand the senselessness of death’s separation. To say, “I don’t know” is of little comfort to someone who needs to know. It did not placate my pain and I doubt it placates theirs. But it is the truth. I truly don’t know.

Benjamin June 30 'Why'Yet, it is the answer that comforts me now. Living in unknowing, trusting the illuminating darkness that shades my moment, softly stepping into everything I feel without resistance, resting in presence that transcends the present, is where I live. To say, “I don’t know” no longer haunts me; it heals me.

When “why” dissolved, “what now” appeared. What do I do now? Of all the things I did for Matt one perpetual event stands head and shoulder above the rest. It wasn’t holding him all night his first night in the ICU praying for him not to die. It wasn’t when I hugged him at Bryan’s grave when he was 2 years old and he innocently starting taking the dirt off the grave and he said, “Let’s take Bryan home now.” It wasn’t when we went to sea to spread his mother’s ashes with both of us knowing one day I would be spreading his. And it wasn’t when the ashes of my son left my hand to land in sea.

The one event I that we did daily, the answer to “what now” in the expansion of my unknowing was watching cartoons. I watched hours upon hours of cartoons with Matt. All I knew was I wanted to be wherever he was. I just wanted to love him. There is nothing I needed to know beyond love because I believe there is nothing that is beyond love.

I didn’t need to understand why. My peace did not come from why. My peace came, my peace comes, with the only answer that I have – I don’t know. I simply don’t know why. But I do know the unknowable nature of love and its ever-unfolding presence in the unknown.

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