A Loss of Sunshine
This weekend was a little overwhelming for me. On top of midterm exams and readinging our current place for showings and trying to get ready to move to our new apartment, there was dinner with my in-laws on my schedule and an impromptu visit from my pre-teen's friend that ended up being quite a noisy afair with video games and songs simultaneously fighting for airspace amidst 3 boys trying to talk over their own noise. In the midst of all of that, I got the sad news that my dear friend had lost her battle with cancer. She was only 46, just 3 years older than me. Even though I have known this day was coming (I found out a little more than a year ago) and knew that things were turning as a Hospice service was visiting in hopes to make her comfortable, it seemed so sudden. I sent my condolences to her husband, but then I couldn't bear to be on Facebook anymore. So many friends were announcing her death, I know it was their way to celebrate her and let others know of her passing, but it felt so bad to me. I don't want to post all kinds of stuff so that my friends and family say 'sorry for your loss' it's a nice sentiment but it's not about me, it's about her husband, kids, grandkids and parents. I believe that our energy continues, and she was a big ball of sunshine, always smiling with huge dimples, always making people feel comforted and happy. Even when she was sick, she put on a good show, trying to make everyone who was worried about her take it in stride and know that everything was going to be OK.
I suppose times like this could be powerful motivators, and I'm sure many people make commitments to live healthier when they lose someone they love to an illness. While I haven't really fully accepted that she's gone, I know that she'd have told me how insignificant the things we worry about are. She had 14 months from the time she was diagnosed to the time she left, and she filled that time with things that brought her joy. Guess how concerned she was about what size jeans she could fit into?
The past week I have been very aware of myself, aware of how much of my life I live by rote and how I do not feel an abundance of joy, at any given time. There are always reasons to be stressed out, overwhelmed, irritated at the actions of others and constantly looking for some greener pasture. I don't allow myself joy as often as it presents itself to me. I'm too distracted with tasks and important stuff to notice all the awesome things I have in my life. I spend so much time focusing on negative things that it creates a traffic jam for the good stuff trying to get in. It's something I need to work on, and meditation will help, I just haven't invested as much time to it as I'd like recently, school, work, moving and planning a vacation have all sort of taken precedence, but once I graduate in 2 months, I'll have a lot more free time. Then I will strengthen myself in mentally-healthy ways. I will make smaller changes, as I have already begun over the last week, just in choosing to think more positively and find the good in the situation. I will remind myself that stress and negativity are choices, even in the heat of the moment, and I am in control of how I see a thing. Sounds elementary but the learned emotional response becomes so conditioned that it takes a lot of work to be aware of our reactions. I'm sure I'll eventually accept that my friend is gone, I will grieve and then I will grow. And I'll try to pass on a little bit of the sunshine that she brought into the lives of everyone she met. Her greatest gifts to me are the lesson she taught me without even saying a word.