There are tulips from a beautiful bouquet my mother in law sent Lillian for her 7th birthday in a vase on my counter. They brought such joy to her face as she opened the door, which immediately brought joy to mine. Yesterday I noticed the tulips began to droop and I decided to take them out of the vase as they were stretching for sunlight. I moved them to a new vase and put them on the table and I immediately thought they looked a little sad, but beautiful. They matched my mood this week as the weather was damp and the sky dark, I had to schedule some cancer related dr. appointments, Jay was traveling leaving the house quiet, October (Pinktober for me) will be here soon, and I was fighting sickness all week.
Though they looked a little sad, their beauty still shined through. The vibrant shades of purple color on the petals, the bright green stems, their strength as they delicately hung over the vase grasping for light all created beauty for my heart.
Sadness has been a theme for me in my life. Grief has come in various waves, through my mother’s battle with metastatic breast cancer and death, my own diagnosis at 32 and the subsequent damage treatments and surgery have done to my body, my sisters’ BRCA status, surgeries, and my younger sister’s diagnosis at 31. Additional waves of sadness and grief have overtook me more recently dealing with my chronic illness of mold sensitivity and environmental illness (MCS).
The greatest lesson this has all taught me is there is always beauty in the sadness. In my darkest days when I couldn’t get out of bed, I would think of the joyful, beautiful moments that had yet to come. Seeing Nate and Lillian go off to Kindergarten, dancing with Nate and Lillian at their weddings, taking them to beautiful places in our country when they were older, and holding grandchildren in my arms one day. These joyful moments pulled me through.
Without sadness I wouldn’t know the extreme joy I feel when I am well and happy, in nature or with my husband, children, and those I love most. Yin and Yang. You need one to enjoy the other.
Sadness still comes and I have learned not to fight it. If you are not familiar with grief, it comes in waves. It has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes, as a wave does when your back is to the ocean. Other times I can feel it coming. Like a storm. I have learned to ride out the storm, to let the waves crash over me instead of knocking me over. Sometimes jumping into the wave is the best way to keep from getting knocked over. When I ignore the grief that is welling up into my being it knocks me over. I am tired of getting knocked over. Cancer and my chemical sensitivities have done enough of that.
So I rest when I need to. I nourish and listen to my body. I say no when I need to and yes whenever I can. I allow the grief and sadness to come and go, as it always will. No emotion lasts forever, they pass like the wind and waves. I can choose to hold onto grief and sadness or I can choose to hold onto the joy. I choose joy.
When I feel the waves of grief rising, I know it will pass and when joy is imminent in all the cells of my body, I hold on, knowing it won’t last forever.
So yes, I am thankful for sadness. I am thankful for joy. I am thankful I am alive, because so many women have lost their lives before their life was fully lived. I carry joy as I see my children grow and I get to grow older beside my husband.
The beautiful purple wilted flowers are still on my counter, drooping a little lower each day. Their drooping beauty reminds me of the beauty in sadness. The beauty in grief. The beauty in joy.