In a recent email conversation, author and friend Stephen Graham King sent me this quote he once found on a chalkboard years ago, and remembered:
“The most helpful discovery of today has been that right in the midst of my sorrows, there is always room for joy. Joy and sorrow are sisters, they live in the same house.” Macrina Wiederkehr (The Song of the Seed, A Monastic Way of Tending the Soul)
Simple and true. A lesson that took all I am to learn, after Brian died. There was joy–my son, Scott, was born a month later. Jamie went from adorable toddler to precocious little girl. Scottie did all those infant firsts. I don’t remember much of it. I lived in a black hole for the first full year after my husband’s death. Climbing out of it was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I learned the lesson well. I came to understand about those sisters, Sorrow and Joy.
Tangling with the immense sorrow in my life right now are so many joys that I refuse to allow sorrow to dim. GrandWilliam turned four. We bought him a “Merida” bow and arrow set that he’s over the moon in love with. Watching him master it, then reenact scenes from the movie was epic. Gioia’s smile is sunshine beyond reckoning. My kids don’t like when I talk about them online, so I’ll just say the simple fact they exist is my greatest joy.
I have Frankie D, my love. Date nights or grocery shopping, there’s no one I’d rather spend time with.
I have both of my wonderful parents, a younger brother who dove 20 feet to the bottom of the Mediterranean to get me sand, a younger sister who sends me daily pictures of her dogs just to make me smile, and an older brother who is and has always been my best friend.
I have friends. Beautiful, wonderful, caring friends who truly love me.
And writing. My creative mind might only be able to focus on my own stuff right now, but it is able to focus–a joy in itself that keeps me from spiraling, from wallowing. I have a novel coming out in October with a publisher I am truly honored and thrilled to be writing for. Two more are slated for April and October of 2016. The everyday joys that go along with edits and galleys and final proofs and covers and all the things a writer dreams of continue. I feel them. They make me happy. Life in general does. That isn’t canceling out the sorrow of Christofer’s death, but it keeps me from falling back into that black hole I will never fall into again.
And even he brings me joy, crazy as that sounds. We were close, my boy and I. Closer than most mothers and sons. I got that for twenty-five years. Some hard years, some great years, but I had them. Remembering makes me cry now, but I know from experience that it won’t always be that way.
What are your joys? Share them here or elsewhere, but share them. Joy is contagious. It seeps out into the world and makes a difference to someone, like my friend’s did yesterday, in the quote in his email.