I drove up to the cemetery and took a deep breath before deciding whether I really wanted to get out of the car. I timidly walked up to the gate and struggled to get through the foreboding iron structure. It had been close to two years, but this would be the first time I decided to visit my mom.
I put a blanket down next to her headstone and took it all in, unsure of what exactly I was trying to accomplish. I started watching a butterfly flutter from grave to grave just a few yards away, wanting nothing more than for it to land on my mom’s.
I wanted something – a sign – to say, “I know you are here, and I’m here too.”
But, the butterfly never made it to my mom’s gravestone. There was no gust of wind. There was no ray of sunshine beaming toward me through the clouds. There was no sign – and I had to face the reality that I might never get one. Yet, after the initial disappointment set in, I started to wonder why I was waiting for something in the first place. I had everything I needed to make the moment meaningful on my own.
How often do we wait for a sign or some abstract signal to determine if we will or will not do something? Why do we do things like flip a coin or pick a number to make decisions? We have all the power to make the choices that will subsequently turn into moments within ourselves.
I am not saying there is no such thing as signs or ideas like fate and destiny, but I am saying none of those concepts stand a chance without taking some initiative on your own. I do truly believe in the common phrase “everything happens for a reason.” I also believe just as strongly that no one should let that philosophy turn into an excuse to standby and wait for things to happen instead of making them happen.
I could have walked straight out of the cemetery filled with disappointment. I could have walked out angry. I could have walked out without hope. But, walking out, even when all the signs were pointing me towards the gate, would have prevented me from finding the connection I needed.
I chose to create my own sign – my own moment. My mom and I shared a love of reading and we could spend hours together just sitting and finishing page after page. So I sat and I read. And for a while, I pretended that I wasn’t reading in a cemetery. I was reading on the porch of our beach house. I was reading on our couch as we shared our favorite big fuzzy blanket. I was reading with my mom.
It is easy to make decisions based on chance, but it takes real courage and perseverance to keep on pushing for that moment even if it does not feel like the universe is on your side. Events that happen by chance are undoubtedly special, but there is something even more beautiful about creating something on your own.