There are quite a few quotes about moving on, moving forward, finding a new way to live. “It’s always darkest before the dawn”, “it’s always coldest in the hour before dawn”, “Just when the caterpillar thought it’s life was over, it became a butterfly”, “You are never given anything you can’t handle.” Many of these have always seemed a little contrived and I know many of them are not scientifically accurate. I am not one who clings to the hope that “next time” will be better. I take things as they come and I hope I can handle it, make it a learning situation, enjoy it if possible, find the good, hold onto the things that make me happy.
Don’t get me wrong. I have quotes I love. The butterfly quote above fed my soul through a particularly changing and challenging time in my life. I have used the “serenity prayer” for years to get through hard times – more as a formula to find sanity in the insane than as an actual prayer. I truly love a particular quote by Maya Angelou – “The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” I just feel like telling someone that it will get better doesn’t necessarily help when they are in the thick of the pain. I can be ready, prepared for the worst or the best, and take life as it comes. That is all I can do.
HOWEVER, today I read a quote that really struck a nerve with me.
“Only when night is at it’s darkest do the stars shine their brightest.” (seems to be unknown author?)
I have some experience with this, and I think that is why it touched me. I grew up in a fairly small town in Wyoming. OH the stars you can see there. Even now that the town has grown and added a box store and a dozen fast food places, you can still see a billion more stars than I can see in my suburb house outside of a big city. A billion. Sometimes when I go home to visit my family, If I am driving at night, I stop on the road. I stop in the middle of no where in the darkness on a dark deserted highway – no cars, no street lights or houselights. I turn off my car and I get out and look – just stare at the loveliness that is a billion upon billion stars staring back at me. Shining so bright. You can even see the Milky Way out there.
Once in a while I get a little homesick for those stars. I miss them a little.
So, this quote speaks to me.
This year has been a long, difficult year for me. I wasn’t sure I’d make it through intact. It’s funny, I felt better when I was in the middle of my cancer battle. It’s so hard to watch a loved one go through a devastating illness. When you are the patient you have focus, some control over your treatment plans, you know what you need to do and you find ways to do it. When it’s a loved one, you stand by helplessly, hoping they will let you do what you can, resenting it when they don’t.
Most people who read this blog know we lost my mom in July. She couldn’t take her Early Onset Alzheimer’s anymore. It has been hard at every “big” thing. Even little things. I missed talking to her on my birthday, calling her on her’s, calling her to share our excitement over the first day of kindergarten, seeing her at fall break, calling to tell her my son is doing well in school, that they took him off his IEP and how that makes me nervous, calling her excited about him starting to read, yesterday I missed telling her about him loosing his first tooth. The list is endless. Daily I find things I wish I could talk to her about.
There have been many other things this year that have caused me stress, that have been painful, that have caused me to grieve. It has been a hard year to deal with.
I am sure lots of good things have happened this year. I have let the painful things overshadow them. That has been my choice, and I need to make a better one this year. I can look back and remember good things, I just didn’t have any joy attached to them. That needs to change.
And so, today, I am reflecting on how the stars shine the brightest when it is darkest. My stars are my family. My husband has been a rock for me. He isn’t the easiest to talk to, but he is there when I need him – driving all night when my mom was in a coma, taking care of our son when I was helping her after she got out of the hospital, getting me to the funeral safely and helping all he could with that, holding me when I cried, taking care of me when the stress overwhelmed my body and made me sick. My brothers and sisters banding together to make sure everything that needed to be taken care of got done. Being there for each other. My dad being stronger than I could be. My son – my light – keeping his smile, telling me it’s ok, loving me always and giving me something to get up every day for. It seems like a horrible burden to put on a child – being the reason for living. But he simply is right now. My cousins and aunts and uncles and grandma coming to our rescue, lending us smiles, doing laundry, taking care of kids, giving hugs, making sure my birthday was still a good one.
These are the stars in my life, and they have truly shined brightest when I was in my darkest places.
I know I need to be my own star too. I have learned this countless times. The light that comes from within is the most powerful and really the most needed. The light that we shine is the one that guides us and gives us comfort and reminds us where we need to be and what we need to do. It’s the light that connects us to others, that forms bonds with people. It’s the light that heals and provides hope.
I don’t really set New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s better to make and work on long term goals always – not just at New Year. But if I were to set one this year it would be to find my own light again (heaven knows how many times I will have to learn THIS lesson). To find my own light again, to nurture it, to spread it, to help it grow.
So, goodbye 2012. Goodbye year of pain. Goodbye things holding me back, allowing me to hurt, giving me sadness.
I choose to move on, forward, to learn but not dwell, to shine.