I don't believe everything happens for a reason. I think the universe proceeds along quite tidily following a set of rules that govern the important aspects of my life, like gravity, with no interest in meddling beyond the chemical reactions that formed me. Everything after that first division of cells--where I grew up, the schools I attended, the friendships I formed--has been a series of random choices and consequences that got me where I am today. To wit: I got accepted to several universities but chose county college, where I met a girl who followed a local band. I got in a fight with my mother, moved in with the groupie, got a fake ID from her sister, frequented a local club, dated the queer bartender and started hanging with his friend who went to Rutgers. A year later I transferred there, moved into her apartment, and joined the co-ed fraternity where I met The Captain.
Basically, I married The Captain because I got a fake ID and dated a gay mixologist.
Sure, there were a few more steps involved--several break-ups and a stint in rehab--and I didn't even mention the part where I got pregnant by the band's drummer because it seemed too outlandish. Either way, it wasn't exactly a master plan.
Consequently, I've also decided to abandon the "I wouldn't change a thing, because it got me where I am today" metaphysical trope. I would ABSOLUTELY change several things, perhaps starting with that pregnancy (*reminder to use birth control, young women readers*). I wouldn't necessarily opt out of the drug addiction, but that's coming from a place of recovery which has given me real insight and strength. I'd prefer my father had lived beyond my nineteenth birthday, thus perhaps slowing the pace of my addiction. I wish I hadn't hurt so many people with my reckless self-absorption.
I wish my children weren't autistic.
I'm probably not supposed to say that one out loud. But the world favors the able and is cruel to people who are different, and my boys face a daily gauntlet of challenges that exhaust them and me. I must be their champion every day--in school, in public, even within their family--ignoring judgment as I cajole or drag everyone forward. This is more daunting when the autistic behavior is particularly douchey, as when Four chose "Go to Hell, bitch" instead of wishing me goodnight.
I have five boys. One has cerebral palsy, two have autism, two more struggle with anxiety, and we're waiting to see if the other one turns out to be the addict statisticians say we're owed. I used to believe God sent them all to me because I was strong enough to shepherd them through life. Now I think it was more science than faith. The Captain and I were brought together by a series of fortunate events, but I can't say our gene pool benefited from the collaboration.
I think of the universe as an ordered world--perhaps even divinely inspired--but then left to its own devices. The Captain and I weren't fated to be together, but we are still sharing a life. My children weren't sent to me because of my fortitude; rather, they've taught me to be resilient. Loss hasn't depleted me. It's worn away my edges, leaving me softer and more forgiving.
I think things happen for no reason other than to prepare us for when they happen again. We are given building blocks and rudimentary directions to design our own life, which more often than not becomes a kaleidoscope. With each twist, the colored bits of paper are pushed and pulled into shapes we never imagined. Chaos becomes beauty. And that is reason enough to keep turning the lens.