Sunday, July 18, 2010

An Irony

Many, many times I have thought how sad I am that my father did not live long enough to meet his grandson, Severin. My dad loved, loved kids - especially babies. As a Baptist pastor in different churches in Texas and Oklahoma, he loved to grab babies and absolutely devour their cheeks. When he "dedicated" babies in front of the church, he would only very reluctantly hand the baby back to the young parents - and only after turning around and showing the choir the little rosy-cheeked lump to an enormous round of "AAAAAHHH!"

Incidentally, he also really loved older people. I think he enjoyed the good-humored company of the "Prime Timers" at our church more than any other group of people. Our family took a two week vacation to Yellowstone on the church bus with the Prime Timers when I was 12, and I can tell you that it is still a highlight of my life.

But back to young ones. Luckily my step-sister Amy and my cousin Gwen (my Dad's niece) had babies, so I am glad he got a taste of being a grandpa.

And now back to Severin. I know that Dad would have adored him. I wish, wish, wish he could have met Seve - sometimes I wish it so strongly I can hardly stand it.

But there is an irony here. If Dad had survived his heart surgery in 2005, there would be no Severin. The complex causal chain of events that led to Severin's existence would have been different. We would probably still have a wonderful child, though not certainly, but that child would not be the same Severin. A different set of reproductive cells would have met up at a different time to create a different personality.

Severin could only have been created in this particular reality, this particular arrow of time. So even my father's death is part of the web of interactions that led to Severin's existence. And more broadly speaking, every single event that has ever happened in the entire universe has been required to make this present exist, Severin included. If a star on the other side of the galaxy, or a galaxy on the other side of the universe, had formed with one less droplet of matter, everything would have been different today.

So my father, Cecil Eugene "Gene" Stark, and Severin Eugene Stark exist together in an entirely connected, star-crossed relationship that somehow, sadly, requires them to never have met.

It's really sad. It's really beautiful. Perhaps there are possibilities that I cannot know about. And that's about as far as I can go with that.


  1. I imagine that as my child Roslyn grows older and more "lovable" that I will only wish that much more that Dad could physically hold her in his arms.

    I sure am glad that Severin and Roslyn have our step-dad J.R.

    Losing a loved one reminds us to focus on today, as tomorrow is uncertain. We re-evaluate our relationships. People who have lost loved ones tend to say "I love you" more. What if those are the last words I get to say to you? What if those are the last words I get to say? Losing a loved one helped me focus on the value of my existing relationships. And, it helped prepare me for the commitment needed to be a good husband. So, without Dad's death perhaps I would not have been ready for marriage when I met my now wife, and if I had not married her then Roslyn would not be. So, without dad leaving this earth perhaps Severin and Roslyn would never have entered this earth. Yes, sad, beautiful, confusing, odd, but . . . sort of makes sense. Then, of course, comes the next conversation about how different each baby would be with the same two parents' egg/sperm combo. Beyond amazing. Incredible. So confusing. But, as they say . . . Timing is everything!

  2. John,

    I too am definitely grateful for JR!

    Yeah, timing is everything - that's even more true the more you think about it.

    good stuff, thanks.