It’s the question I have pondered, asked, and wrestled with for as long as I can remember. It’s the question I have been told not to ask, and the question that I have chased -up and down all sorts of rabbit trails, desperately seeking the answer to. Believing that if I could just find the answer to the shortest question, that maybe just maybe I could rest.
I asked the question at every stage of life, through every trial and success. It has always been there and I suspect will always be there. But over the past few years my desperate need to know the answer to the question why, has eased. If ever so slightly. I have come to terms with some of the long sought after “Whys” and have settled on my own answers that range from real reasons to “Because, that’s why.”
But when he asked me the question, eyes pleading -I couldn’t answer. In that moment I felt the pressing weight of what he carries around everyday, and an understanding -a connection, with the boy who I always assumed “Had it together.”
While I have long since been the first to admit that I don’t know everything, admitting in that moment that I didn’t know -was among the hardest things I have ever had to do. While somewhere deep, deep down I knew the answer he was looking for was just that -giving him permission to continue on the way he was, I couldn’t muster up enough courage to tell him.
To tell him that there isn’t a reason why for everything. That only few, very select things will ever make sense in this world. That there will always be a question why, but there won’t always be a reason why. That sometimes things don’t make sense, and that I myself have tried -desperately, to find the reason why -more than once, and not just for him, but for myself and others as well. But sometimes…life just doesn’t give us a reason why.
It throws everything it has our way. It shoves us down, and kicks us while we are down and doesn’t expect us to get back up again. It beats us into the dusty ground, and tramples us again and again. It turns its back, closes its ears and doesn’t care that we are so close to giving up.
But it doesn’t always give us a reason why.
I didn’t tell him that I understood his very question. I knew the look in his eyes, and the tension between his ears. I didn’t tell him that I knew what it was like to want to sleep the days away, and find some sort of relief from it all. I didn’t tell him that life just sucks sometimes and is confusing and frustrating and hard and pointless and everything else that they just don’t tell you about these days….
Instead I told him that I didn’t know.
That I didn’t have the answer to his question.
And while part of that may have been true, I’m afraid I led him astray.
No, I don’t have the answer.
But I have been there before. I have been in the exact place he is now -wanting and wishing for it all to just end. Cursing the sun when it comes up and begging for relief in the night. I have been there. I have asked the same questions to whoever will listen and heard the same answers -over and over.
I knew what he wanted me to say, and I couldn’t say it.
I couldn’t tell him the reason why. And not because I don’t know the answer. But because the reason “why” is different for him than it is for me. My reason why, won’t match his. His won’t match mine. And me telling him my reason? Won’t make any sense to him. Me helping him find his reason won’t help him.
Because as much as I want to just shake him, and maybe slap him upside the head a few dozen times and yell until he hears that there IS a reason, he just has to find it -I know that at this point, it will just be another meaningless answer. An empty return. So instead of letting him down and giving him MY reason why -I gave him the tiny shred of hope that was once given to me…
“I don’t know why.”
And hoped that it was enough. Enough for him to grab a hold, to find the strength to try again, and one day maybe he will be able to tell me the same thing.