Grief and sadness is a terrible thing in and of itself.
It’s hard to know where and when to stop being happy because other people are so sad, sometimes other people close to you are sad which means you should probably adjust the amount of happiness you’re capable of to better match the sadness of others. Or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes. The sun is shining, my family is marvelous and I have a very good life. I am well, I am healthy and I am quite happy.
But not too happy. The sun may be shining but people are dying. I have a very good life while others are struggling to hang on.
I have been on the other side of sadness. When I was released from the hospital Cody took me to a video store. I stared at all the people in the store laughing and carrying on without a care in the world. Didn’t they know I had just been locked up and unable to feel the sunshine on my face? Didn’t they know there were people still locked up who may never make it to a video store again? On the very long flight back from a child’s funeral it was hard not to look at frustrated parents and think “At least your child is still here. Children die and yours could too.”
It’s a terrible way to think but it’s also a very human way to think.
With what’s going on with my friend Dawn, it’s hard to fully immerse myself in all the good things surrounding me. Her family is losing her. She is not going to get better (But the eternally optimistic part of me hopes she will. I hope that part of me never shuts down.) Rather than dwell on impending sadness and doom I am focusing all my efforts for good, it’s what Dawn would do. It’s what she would want all of us to do. Take better care of each other. Complain less. Compliment more.
When I think back to the times I was sad and broken, it was your eternal optimism that convinced me I would some day get better. Had you all become sad and dreary to match my mood no one would have gotten better. I didn’t want anyone to enjoy their life any less simply because I couldn’t find any joy in mine.
There is so much sadness out in the world right now. Normally I’m in the thick of it, but for the first time I’m watching it envelop so many and I am desperate to do something about it.
Have you ever taken the time to look away from the sky during a fireworks show and look back on the crowd? That moment when the fireworks explode and everyone’s face lights up with colored light and awe?
I am heartbroken at all the sadness we must feel in this life, but I also know from personal experience how much stronger it makes us after we survive it. I choose to complain less, laugh more and when I am able, turn the sadness around me into a thousand tiny lights to help others find their way.
While donations to The Melanoma Research Foundation in Dawn’s name will always be appreciated, donations are being gathered to help Mike and his sons directly with warm food, services and comforts that no one should have to worry about while losing a loved one.
UPDATE: 2pm EST. Dawn is gone. Please pray/sing/send juju, whatever it is you may do to her husband Michael and their two boys.