I saw the quote above last week on a post by Momastery’s Glennon Doyle Melton that was published by the Huffington Post. It’s so true that it makes my stomach hurt. It speaks profoundly to me of how I want to see the world, of how I wish Tony could have seen it. I am afraid sometimes. The past year has been more frightening than not, and I have been so scared. I am scared right now, typing this. I just found out that my cousin Christina, younger than I am, died this weekend. She had cancer. She had a hard life in many ways, and now she is gone. I cannot help but think of Tony. He was also younger than I am. He was also more afraid than I have ever been.
The world is beautiful. I saw that this past week in my family hugging me before I left Seattle. In my dad driving from Phoenix to meet me there. In my co-workers greeting me and telling me they missed me and making me feel how much they appreciated my presence in the office. In my beloved friends, who helped me to bear the sight of those empty chairs. In the marathoners who kept running to give blood, the first responders who ran toward danger, in the crowd of Bruins fans singing the lustiest, most heartfelt rendition of the national anthem I have ever heard.
The world is terrible. I saw that in the pictures of the wounded. In the grieving families of the dead. In the pictures of two young men who tried to tear apart a city. In the smoking ruins of that fertilizer plant. In the earthquake that took hundreds of lives in China. In the rising floodwaters of the Mississippi. In the empty chairs where Tony should have been sitting.
What I know is that we need both. I don’t celebrate or welcome the terrible. Certainly not. But I believe that life is about balance. Without darkness, could we ever truly appreciate the light? If all we had were goodness, would we even know its name? Might it not be taken for granted, the way a child who grows up rich takes money for granted? Might we not be less? Less compassionate, less forgiving, less kind, less understanding?
I think we would be.
This is what people with depression can’t see. For them, the darkness blots out not only the light that is now, but all the light that ever was. For them, darkness means that light never existed, never shone, never illuminated or lifted or sang. I tried so hard to shine the light on Tony, to help him bathe in its glow. There were moments, fewer as the years went by, but moments nevertheless, when I know he felt it. I used to tease him that when those happened, he looked like the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes. His eyes would be so big, so blue, so JOYOUS, in those moments. Full of light. I wanted him to rage against the dying of that light, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t. He never could.