Why? If you have ever had a four-year-old, then you are very familiar with this question because you likely hear it 587 times a day. You know the kind of questions I’m talking about: Why is the sky blue? Why can’t I catch the wind? Why doesn’t the dog have to poop in the potty? While these type of questions will drive you crazy, you are the person they trust most in the world and, to them, you know everything. These are questions you can answer, and you do so in many ways – you have to keep it interesting. So, sometimes you will be silly. Have you ever told your kid that thunder is just the angels having a bowling tournament? Enjoy this because as they get older, the questions get harder and harder to answer.
Most likely, before they are ten-years-old, someone in their young life will die; it could be a grandparent, a favorite teacher, or a friend. One night, you’ll be tucking them in to bed and as you lean down to kiss them good night, they will once again ask you why. Why did they die? You are still the person they trust most and the one they turn to figure out the world. If your family is religious, you might say that God needed another angel and tell them you’ll see them again one day. If you’re not, maybe you’ll explain the circle of life and how everything goes back into the earth to replenish what we’ve taken from it. With both scenarios, you’ll encourage them to cherish the memories they have and to focus on life.
When they are sixteen, someone will break their heart. They will come to you and ask why? Why does it hurt so much? You will tell them the story of your first love and your first broken heart. You will assure them that with time, the pain will ease; that one day, they will find the person that shows them what true love really feels like.
When they are in their early twenties, they will come to you and ask why. Why can’t I figure out what to do with my life? You will encourage them to find their passion. You will listen as they talk about writing, history, programming, or engineering. You will see their excitement when they explain their subject. When they ask why they aren’t good enough because they are turned down for job after job, you will encourage them to keep trying because the right one is out there.
A few years later, they will call you in the middle of the night and ask you Why. Why is this baby still crying? You might giggle a little bit and once again offer the assurance that this won’t last forever. You’ll remind them that babies grow very quickly into toddlers and toddlers in to children and before they know it, they will be answering a phone call just like this one.
When they are in their forties and their spouse decides they are ready for a different life, you’ll be there. You’ll be there for whatever they need. Late one night, after they’ve put the kids to bed, they’ll call you and once again ask why. Why do I still love them after everything they’ve done to me? After all, you’re still the one they need, the one they’ll always need to help them figure out the world. You’ll tell them that they are allowed to feel whatever they need to for as long as they need to. You’ll remind them of that very first heartbreak so many years ago and how, one day, the hurt was just gone. You’ll encourage them to take this time to figure out who they are now; to learn who they are without their spouse. You’ll be the hand they need when they can’t juggle it all and the shoulder they need while they try to figure it all out.
One day, they will get a call; a call to come quickly because your end is near. When they get there, they will take your hand and ask one last question. How. How will I ever make it without you? You will look into their teary, questioning eyes and grip their hand with all the strength you can gather. You will tell them that they will be okay and you wouldn’t be going if it wasn’t time. You wouldn’t be going if you hadn’t answered all of their questions.
When they get home they will go to check on the kids one last time before bed. When they are tucking the last one in she will look up and ask them why? Why did you die? They will climb in the bed and take her into their arms and say, “Let me tell you what a really wise person once told me…..”