Almost 16 years ago, I, at some point, was studying for my last test in college. I don’t actually remember studying for it, so I am only assuming I did. When I think back that far and to that time in my life, only Andrea’s face materializes. We would have barely been dating six months at that point, but I was dearly in love with her, but ahead of us lay a million questions…a million “What Ifs”. Not just about our relationship, but about ourselves, as well.
Thirteen years after that, I sat on our bed, in our room, in our first house, studying for my first Masters test. I remember it vividly this time because six-month old Benjamin was downstairs with Andrea, crying and crying. I didn’t want to study and I couldn’t concentrate…I just wanted to help Andrea out and calm down our baby boy. I was dearly in love with that tiny little guy, and he had joined Andrea in the center of my world. However, I was adding on this new complexity to our simple life and it filled me with anxiety and, yes, a million more questions. On top of the school itself, I was still trying to figure out if I could be a good father and a good husband to his mother. And the “what ifs” were there again.
This Saturday, somehow, I will graduate with my Masters degree and I can’t help but reflect on where I was when I started this journey. I’m no longer the father of an infant…I am a father of two little boys who, yes, I love so dearly and run in these hyper little circles around Andrea at the center of my world.
There was a moment, this past fall, when I was working on my final homework assignment in the office with Benjamin working on his homework for kindergarten, just behind me. It struck me so strongly, that it moves me in such a strange way. He was so little when I started and here he was, doing his homework with his daddy. I feel like that will be the lasting memory I will have of working on my Masters. For some reason, in that moment, I felt so calm and secure in the life that Andrea and I built around ourself. The questions are there, but they can wait to be answered. The what ifs simply don’t matter (you know, if you throw away the “w” and rearrange the other letters in “what if”, you get “faith”…I’m just saying). Benjamin may have been trying to figure out what color he should make the turtle on his homework paper while I was trying to solve a matrix Algebra problem, but there was a perfect symmetry there that stretched back not just the five years it took to complete this journey, but all the way back to the very beginnings of the journey that brought me to where I am today. And while one journey will end this Saturday, the bigger journey is laid out beautifully ahead of us.