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Gaining in Loss
Waking up was easy. The smell of breakfast lingered in my imagination but the box of cereal was all that was in store for me in reality. Captain Crunch was delicious enough even though the smell of the artificial peanut butter did compare to the smell of eggs and bacon in my mind.
After eating my cereal I decided to go downstairs and hop onto the computer to talk on AOL Instant Messenger with my friends. This was my main way of communicating—only one of the many problems with the youthful generation that is surrounded by technology which makes it easy to be less personable with people—and it was how I made all of my plans. For that particular day I had hockey at around noon but other than that there was nothing on my plate. As I was chatting with my friends about pointless insignificant things my dad was in the foyer getting ready to leave with my brother. My dad was putting on a clinic at the local hockey rink for kids at Jefferson High School which was where I attended. I was a freshman at the time. My brother, who was a senior, was on the ice before me because the clinic was broken up into two groups, “Freshman” and “Everyone Else”.
“See ya’ in a bit, Ben,” my dad called to me. I was focused on the computer. The little “blurp” sound whenever I got a message was like jingle-bells at Christmas. Magnificent.
“Yeah, see ya later Dad,” I hollered to him. It was just a normal good-bye in a very abnormal situation. Those were the last words I would ever speak to him. The last chance I got to say good-bye I could not see him and the last time would see him I could not say good-bye.
I finished up talking to my friends, which I must admit throughout my life have been my main priority and sometimes it has gotten in the way of school and hockey, and got ready to leave. While I was packing up my gear into the rather large bag, that after years of carrying seem more comfortable than a backpack does while walking into school, I was very upset. I did not want to go to hockey. It was the summer, school was coming up in about a week, and it was sunny out. Staying home and being lazy sounded much better to me but nevertheless there was no way I was going to get out of going to my own dad’s clinic. It was as inevitable as Jesus on the Cross. This was the course I was set to embark on for the day although it was in no way as serious as Jesus’ death.
On the car ride to the Bloomington Ice Gardens everything was going smoothly. My grandmother was in the front seat and her words emptied out of her mouth like bullets out of an M1 Grand in WWII. The moment I realized something was wrong was when I saw two police cars with their lights flashing in front of the B.I.G. The weird thing about the situation was that it was not the first time I had seen this. Often times kids got hurt on the ice and the police were the first ones on the scene to help but this day was different. Firstly I knew that due to the time of the day and also due to the fact it was still summer there was a high chance that my father’s clinic was the only thing going on inside B.I.G.—which F.Y.I. has three rinks, his clinic was on the second one—and that the police cars were most likely there for somebody in the clinic. But secondly, I just had a gut feeling. I had a premonition that something really wrong was going on. My feeling was backed up when I saw my grandpa run out as he saw us pull up. His face was ghostly. I then recall getting out of the van before the car even stopped but I do not remember what my grandpa said. It was all a blur.
As I turned the corner to enter Rink 2 I saw somebody lying on the ice. It was my dad. And then somebody was holding him. It was my brother; he was keeping my dad’s head off of the ice. My brother, Josh, was, and still is, a very smart guy. He received a full-ride to Princeton University partly due to his hockey skills but the 4.0 GPA also helped him out. His calmness, though, could not keep me and my mom from being a shaken up. I went numb and my mom went crazy. She started to scream and cry and yell while my grandpa constrained her and tried to calm her down. After a struggle she gave in and sat down on a bench away from it all. I kept staring. My dad was gasping for air and I knew it was a heart attack. I looked around at all the kids there and realized all my best friends were around me. Every kid that my dad coached from the time they were only five—my father taught almost every single one of the boys who were in Rink 2 that day how to skate—was there. Oddly enough, with all those people there, I was as alone as ever.
I got the keys from my mom, although I was only fourteen at the time, and I pulled our Dodge Caravan up to the front of B.I.G. I hopped in the back with my grandma—who was still talking about random things and this was probably just the way she was coping with the whole situation but regardless it was very annoying at the time—and my mom and grandpa got in the front. We headed to the hospital and to our surprise there were already friends waiting there for us. Parents of the kids at the rink had gotten the word of what happened and figured we were going to be going to the hospital so they decided to get there and help us out. Never before had I seen such sincerity and compassion. Without them it would have been so much tougher to handle.
After about fifteen minutes we were informed that he was DOA but we could see him one last time. I opted not to see him because, still and more than ever, I was too numb to feel.
Later that night all of our friends came over to our house and kept us company. After they left I decided to sleep on the couch. Even though my body wanted to my mind would not let it fall asleep. Fathoming the ordeals of the day was too hard for me. It did not seem real. I asked myself, “Am I supposed to hate God for this? Aren’t I supposed to blame him for it?” My answer came so quickly and easily that I knew it was the right one. No, I was not supposed to blame him. Faith had arrived.
There was no equation to solve my father’s death. Sure, he was a smoker and he had a heart attack due to a clogged artery but many smokers outlive him and he did not even smoke that much so it did not seem right. There was one thing though that kept me believing it was all for a reason and that one thing was faith. No matter what religion someone practices or what god they believe in it none of it is helpful unless they have true faith. I put all of my faith into God, for me it is the Christian God, and decided that my dad’s death was for a reason even though I was unbeknown to that reason. Faith can vanish just as quickly as it can come but that night when I was all alone on the couch I knew I could not blame the God that gave my father life for taking him away from me. Joel Levine had 46 years to live on this earth and he did not take one of those years for granted.
My dad’s time was up and I had faith that it happened for a reason. A reason that I may never know of but that is the beauty of faith. Faith comes into play when a person cannot rationally solve a problem. For example when somebody asks, “Who created God,” I cannot explain to them. I simply do not know the answer to that question. I have faith though that he is there even if I cannot explain how he got there.
Recently at Jefferson High School a student died in a motorcycle accident and the death hit the school just as hard as the impact that killed him. He was a nice to kid and people were shaken up after his death. It also left a lot of people wondering, “Why did he die?” Well, I was discussing this issue with one of my close friends and she then said, “It’s the same thing with you. How unfair for you to lose your dad at such a young age. Why did he die? Why do we have to die? Why did God take him from you?” They were great questions that I did not know the answers to. I looked her in the eyes and told her that I had faith in God and his reasoning and that death, all deaths, happens for a reason. Sometimes the reasons are evident and lie right in front of our faces but other times they are hard to find and are covered with the blanket of grief. Either way my faith in God’s reasoning is there and I believe that God does not take people away from us rather he gives them life and free will. My father chose to smoke; he had a heart attack. The boy at Jefferson chose not to wear a helmet; he was in an accident and did not survive.
Through the loss of my dad I have realized that the only thing in my life that will always be there for me at all times is faith. Although I did say faith can vanish as quickly as it appeared, the key to faith is understanding that nobody can take it away from you other than yourself. Faith is for everyone to use and it is a very dangerous weapon. Faith is a one-size-fits-all key. Put faith in something and the results will be astonishing, that is if it is true faith. I have faith that someday I will see my dad again. What do you have faith in? I suggest putting faith in something because solving everything is impossible. Some things are better left unsolved and it may be better to just have faith that the answer or the result is or will be for the better. Faith matters.