The cushion

The other day, I was sitting with my daughter on the couch. I forget what we were doing, probably watching another pony video on her iPad or something.

And it struck me. Intense. Existential. Sadness. Dread, in fact.

I don’t know if you’re a parent and if you’ve ever been smacked in the jaw with this notion, but I feel it’s an underlying one that we all dance with. One that, as soon as we see even a peek of it, we stuff it back down. Deep, deep, down where it can’t scare us anymore.

What hit me was the fact — the fact — that one day, I’m going to have to say goodbye to her. That one day, death will likely meet one of us first (hopefully me), and…

I won’t be able to look at her soft cheeks. Her little button nose. Her eyes that resemble gray/blue/green galaxies that swirl like twilight. I won’t be able to hold her marshmallow hand as we cross the street together. I won’t be able to follow her command to watch me, daddy again and again and again.

Even if she’s 40 or 50 or 60 when it happens, she’ll still be who she is to me.

This dread is so intense. I follow it down. I let it take me there.

Why are we put in this situation? All of us. The more our love increases, the more we dread this inevitable leavingness and the more the temporary nature of being a human becomes apparent.

I struggle to write this.

This loving dread passes over just as strongly to my wife. It carries across to my friends, my extended family — hell, even my dog…

Being a human is so… Sad.

As I write, and through fogged eyes, I feel I’m through it now. And I’m noticing…

That towards the bottom, beneath this dread, lies an underlying cushion. Something that tells me — a knowingness — that this is the illogical beauty of human love.

I see how wrong life would be without this sadness. And I feel blessed for following this dread to where it’s designed to take me.


Which makes me wonder how much we humans push away. A lot of our lot, on the surface, is dreadful. Temporary. Fleeting.

But I know now that there’s a cushion underneath this existential free-fall. There truly is beauty and mercy in this design. Because if we can love in the face of all of this, our souls can rejoice in the fact that who-we-truly-are is absolutely unstoppable.

We can love big in the face of it. We can love fully in the face of it. We can love regardless of the fact that it doesn’t make sense.

I’m also struck with the notion that there might be more. That we’re in this for the long haul. Although the idea of an afterlife is there, it’s merely speculation. But it feels true.

She’s waking up now, so I have to go say good morning. Give her a hug. Hope she won’t see my puffy red eyes and put two and two together.

And love. Because that’s what I am. And in spite of this bastard called human death, that’s what I’ll do.

Forever and ever. Amen.