Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Conditions Are Right

The conditions were right.

That's why you died.

It was not because I messed up or made a mistake or failed.

It was not because God was punishing me.

It was not because God does not love me, or because you did not love me, or because I deserved to lose you, or you deserved to be lost.

The conditions were right.

You spent the whole of your adult life battling an eating disorder. I do not know the specifics. I never asked. Maybe you were bulimic at some point and used food to numb yourself and worked out to keep the weight off.

Maybe you were just a compulsive over-eater and you never compensated and you just used food to numb yourself until you were 550 pounds.

I only know that by the time you came into my life, you had been in therapy and you were making healthier choices and you had lost a couple of hundred pounds. You were still obese. You were still working to reach a healthy weight.

But that didn't matter.

The conditions were right.

You were fifty and that means you'd had at least 32 years of adulthood in which you'd abused your body and who knows what your youth looked like.

So, your heart was not healthy. And in one moment, it stopped. And there was nothing that could be done to start it again.

The conditions were right. It did not matter that you were white, male, upper middle class; that you were a block from the ER when it happened and you received medical attention within seconds of the event.

The conditions were right.

The conditions were right.

Your heart stopped. Your body shut down. With no blood and no oxygen, your brain died. You died.

You died because the conditions were right.

It had nothing to do with me, though it affected me terribly, because I am not the center of the universe, neither cause nor effect, and I do not have the power to control such mundane things as when people die, and because much as I would like to believe that I am so all-important God would, in fact, be interested in punishing my sins so severely as to take you from this earth because I made a mistake, I know this simply is not true. I am not so powerful. I am not so all-important. I am not so proud as to believe that I am the cause (in any way at all) of your death.

The conditions were right.

And that is hard to believe and to accept because it seems so random and meaningless.

It is easier to believe that I can apportion blame in some regard because apportioning blame means I can identify the cause, the contributing factors, the reason for it, and if I can identify those things, then I can prevent the next big catastrophe by being good enough which means perfect, which I can surely never be.

The conditions were right.

I had no control over the conditions that led to your death. I have no control over the conditions that do or do not lead to anything else in this world.

What I control is the choices I make, the behaviors I engage in, the way I engage the world.

I can control what I eat and how much. I control how much I exercise. I control (to the extent that I can) how much sleep I get. I control how much stress and anxiety I have in my life.

I could not control your choices, because if I could have, you'd have eaten granola that night instead of two chocolate bars.

I cannot control the choices anyone else makes either.

The conditions were right.

And you died.

And at some point, the conditions will be right for someone else in my life to die. And it will have nothing to do with me. Just as your death had nothing to do with me.

This is not punishment.

This is not the result of an angry God who does not want me to make mistakes or be anything other than human, which is to say fallible.

When horrible things happen, it is because the conditions are right.

When the good things I want to happen do not, it is because the conditions are not right.

I may never know what conditions are necessary in every circumstance to produce the best outcome (from my own limited perspective). But I can acknowledge that the conditions were right for the outcome produced and the conditions were not right for any other outcome.

And I can look at the role I played in those situations and I can decide whether or not I will make changes in the future, not because doing so means that the outcome in similar future circumstances will be dependent upon my doing things differently or the same; rather because I want to be able to say, "This is an area where I recognize a need for growth and these are the ways I am going to make different choices for myself because I want to grow in these ways" or because I can look back and say, "I am proud of who I am and the choices I made in those specific circumstances and I would do it all again."

The conditions were right.

And while I would surely make different decisions than I did in the days leading up to your death, because I know you died not because I made a mistake but because the conditions were right, I would make those choices based on what I know to be the best choice for myself and my life, and not because the weight of the whole world and the issue of life and death reside on my shoulders.

The conditions were right and it had nothing to do with me.

The conditions were right.

But the conditions were also right for you to be who you were to me for the limited time we had. For that I am grateful. In that, I wouldn't change a thing.

Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens because the conditions are right.

Good, bad, or indifferent. What happens happens because the conditions are right.

So, here we are, six years later. Six years after the right conditions led to a fatal heart attack. Six years after you died.

You did not leave me. You were not taken away from me. You died. You died because the conditions were right.

And because the only conditions I can affect are my own, I choose to believe that I will see you again. I choose to believe that I carry some portion of you with me. My memories and the love I have for you. The relationship has not ended. It just looks different.

I can still love you and honor you. Because those are the conditions that I control. And when it comes to choosing to love others, and especially you, though I may not do it well or perfectly or consistently, the conditions are always right.

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