The way things are supposed to go


It’s not supposed to be that way, I thought as I watched a woman lead her elderly father to the airplane toilet.

The door bumped opened a bit accidentally because two people in one airplane bathroom is a lot, and I saw skinny white legs, pants bunched around the ankles and the look of exasperation as the woman tried desperately to protect her father’s dignity.

And I thought:

We aren’t supposed to be pulling down someone else’s pants for them because they can’t do it themselves.

We aren’t supposed to be wiping someone’s ass or buckling up their too-big belt around their emaciated middle because they’ve lost the fine motor control and coordination to do it independently.

We’re not supposed to coach a parent through the basic actions of washing and drying their hands like they’re children. They know, they just can’t remember how simple things go.

That’s not the way things are supposed to go. We’re supposed to just stop functioning one day and go because our time is clearly done.

We’re not supposed to fade out slowly like the end of a song. There should be a clean cut-off that makes the end obvious and more bearable. Right?

But then I wonder, if we’ve been fading the whole time we’ve been living, since the day we were born, should dying be any different?

So years later, as I recall this scene (because things like that come back to me sometimes), I realize that what I felt in that moment I watched them was love, not sadness.

In the midst of all the shouldn’t’s and this-isn’t-the-way-things-are-supposed-to-go’s, I realize that’s exactly how they’re supposed to go because that’s how they’re going.

And the love that is required to allow things to go exactly how they’re supposed to go is precisely why they happen.

When there’s no other explanation, love is always the answer.

As hundreds of thousands of endings draw near today and tomorrow and the day after (because that’s how things are supposed to go), I see that death is life and life is death. One simply melts into the other and suddenly they’re the same thing.

And perspective shifts.

We seem to be driven (or paralyzed) by this need to know what our overall purpose is in life.

How overwhelming and stressful is it to have such grandiose expectations about life?

I don’t know what my “purpose” is, and I’m kinda done chewing off all my nails and tying my hair in knots while I try to figure it out.

I’m done wondering why people have to go when they have to go and who makes those decisions and how that all fits into the story of What Does This Life Mean.

I only know that I should be so grateful (and I am) for the time I have here to learn, to grow, to love, and to get closer to God, which takes no form at all but also every form I know.

Isn’t it more enjoyable and much less daunting to instead ask, what am I here to do today? It is, after all, the first and only day we have.


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