Beautiful and Terrible Things Will Happen

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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.   

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10 thoughts on “Beautiful and Terrible Things Will Happen

  1. I wish along with you that he raged against the dying of the light, in his mind he had for years; he raged as long as he could. I wish, hope and pray that he went “gently into that good night.” When I saw him the night before the funeral he looked so peaceful, as if he were sleeping. I kissed his head 3 times, one for you, me and our mother.
    Please do not hesitate to lean on me when you are afraid. I know I am far away geographically, but I’ll what I can to give you strength. I got a lot of that at least! 😉 I’ve seen on FB if what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, then at this point I should bench press a Buick. I think I’m right about there. 😉

    • I think you are — my money is on you, not the Buick!

      I’m glad he looked peaceful. I didn’t get to see him. I don’t know if that’s better or worse, but thank you for kissing him for me. I love you!

      • Our Mom couldn’t see him either, so his casket was closed. I went alone the night before, I wanted to see him one more time and say our good-byes. I also had to fix his hair, I didn’t like the way they had it.

  2. My mind started to wander as I was reading, taking me deep into my own thoughts, feelings, memories… usually I just keep going. But I kept pulling myself out of my head and re-reading your words. I’m so glad that I did. Absolutely one of the most powerful reads I’ve experienced. Thank you!!
    Strange question, but… As rough as it’s been, have you ever felt more alive? More in touch with your senses? I know I did and I still can’t explain it.

    • I think I know what you mean, Mitch. My senses and emotions have certainly been overloaded of late, and some of it’s been awful. I was in a terrible fog right after Tony died, I don’t remember a lot of what happened for that first month. But I am now, I think, more aware of myself and the world around me than I ever have been. More grateful. More happy AND more sad. More everything.

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