I went to the woods this morning, as I often do, to my daughter’s final place on earth. These woods are lovingly tended by a very special woman who scatters the park with etched rocks, stone benches and other symbols that fill the space with quiet reverence. As I was leaving my daughter’s spot, I stopped to watch a monarch butterfly perform a beautiful dance that seemed as if it was meant just for me. Next to me was a small carved rock with the words “Man Plans, God Laughs”. I pass it every time I visit and it always gives me pause.
It happens that I don’t believe in god, yet I have come to understand the randomness of events that no planning can ever preclude. I have also come to realize that while I may not have control, I have choice. If I strive to choose, then I don’t have to plan and I can instead just live. Therefore, I try to choose with thoughtful intention.
- I choose to let myself feel the depths and weight of my grief whenever it needs to be felt, for it will never go away.
- I choose to give myself permission to retreat to my chair until I can find the strength to get back up.
- I choose to reject anger every time it tries to seep into my soul.
- I choose to accept that I will never be the same.
- I choose to work diligently to try not to judge others whose expectations for me are not those that I have for myself.
- I choose to search for a way to live my life with meaning, even while knowing that I may never find it.
- I choose gratitude for what I have, even in the face of having lost so much.
I attended every dance performance my daughter was ever in, for it was when she was dancing that I could see who she truly was. I choose to believe that the monarch’s dance was yet another of her performances, this one just for me, to make sure I know that she is here with me. I can’t plan the future, as the past has all too painfully shown. But I can choose how I live my present, thereby knowing that no god need laugh.