Disclaimer: This is not the funnest subject to write, or even think, about. I have always taken the stance that I write for me, if anyone else benefits from that, awesome. Don’t hesitate to email me at michael (dot) moilanen (at) gmail (dot) com with any questions you have, or even feel free to comment below. I do moderate comments to weed out spam, so if your comment is genuine, it will be posted with in a day or two at the most.
I have struggled with how to write this.
Or maybe I’ve struggled with how to start it.
Maybe…I don’t know.
For me…God has never been an option. Now, before you start throwing rocks or applause, let me explain.
Before I was born, my parents had already become ministers. They were involved with the youth at their local church, my mother also being a children’s minister there as well. My father, being a mason (the brick-layer type, not the secret society type) built the church’s signage. They were involved, integral, and Sundays became a routine for my entire life. I know that may sound a bit sterile, but it’s partially the truth. And I don’t really have a problem with it. My wife and I are currently raising our daughter the way we see fit, as I’m sure my parents did with me and my siblings. I remember a minister on one of those countless Sundays talking about family, and he said “your children are passengers in the car you call life”. A very true metaphor. Because of my history, the churches I was raised in, the instruction in the Word of God I received from a very young age till now, I’ve never questioned God’s existence. It’s always been a constant truth, a reality with which we live, just like gravity, or taxes…or death.
Death is an interesting subject. I don’t want to be morbid or weird, but in my opinion it’s easily the most misunderstood reality we encounter. Need proof? There are hundred, if not thousands, of identifiable religions and beliefs that each treat death differently. Some mourn. Some celebrate. Some are indifferent. Some believe in an after-life. Others believe in a collective consciousness. Some believe in a nothingness, or emptiness. Each interesting in it’s own right, full of unanswered questions that leave many wanting for more information, or facts, to justify the question that exemplifies the very human condition in three letters….WHY?
Five weeks ago today, I woke up on the morning of Monday, August 26th, to confront the reality of death in my own family. My wife’s father gave his last breath, while I, my wife, her sister and brother-in-law, and mother all watched on early that morning, just past midnight. The next few days were worse than last minute wedding planning, with deadlines, clothes shopping, song-purchasing, slideshows, funeral arrangements…you get the picture. Three days later, he was buried. And that’s when the fun is just getting started.
By fortunate, or unfortunate circumstances (I’m sure we could make a case for both *smile*), my small family has lived with my in-laws for the past four and a half years. We woke up at the same times, we ate at the same times, wanted to watch TV at the same times, got in each other’s way, had arguments, had amazing conversations, talked about each other, talked about God. I’m not going to gloss over the situation and say in hindsight it’s been awesome or great, because, it hasn’t been. That’s probably more my fault than anyone else’s, but it’s still the truth. I’m not sure why I’m rambling about this, but basically because of our living arrangements, my wife and daughter have to live and breathe here, a place that does nothing but remind them of his life, and ultimately his passing. Questions have abounded…and there a million of them, but none leave anyone closer to the truth, closer to an answer.
And, as I have stated in this blog before (“I don’t know.”), I don’t have a problem with not having an answer. Is there one? Sure. At least a few reasons. Do I know those reasons? No. Am I concerned by that? Not necessarily. I like to know why, but not at the risk of inventing my own answers. That’s not an answer. It’s a suggestion. And suggestions are opinions. Opinions are not truth. And truth is what brings an ending. No one questions gravity. Throw a ball in the air, it comes down. Sure we can do certain things to defy that reality for a period of time. Turn a piece of paper into an airplane and it will soar. Does the soaring paper plane change the reality of gravity? No, it only delays it. Eventually the physics of the situation will not allow flight to continue, and a paper plane will crash into the ground.
“We beg rebirth, do take us up, parade our souls out by the back gate” – The Great Estates, Freelance Whales
I was there when he passed. It was glorious. There is no denying that. The moment only solidified things I’ve believed to be true, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. And if what I hold true in my heart is in fact, true, then there is no denying his current reality is unimaginably better than the healthiest existence one could envision on this planet. I won’t be mad or frustrated by that truth. Eternity is something I may not currently comprehend, but it’s certainly something I won’t spite. To cling to a fading memory does me a disservice, does him a disservice. There is nothing wrong with remembering. But remembering is celebrating, learning, and adjusting. Clinging is something you do when you are desperate. I’m not desperate. And neither is he.
The above picture was taken on a guided fishing trip in the bay near Rockport, TX. We caught our limit of black drum that day. When the trolling motor went out, he spent most of the trip in the water dragging our boat behind a school of fish. I think he had more fun watching us than anything else. It was a good day.