I am currently sitting in my classroom taking a break from getting my room together before the school year starts on Monday. I can see out my window as I type this and I watch as the trees leaves gracefully blow in the wind. I hear nothing but teachers quietly scrambling to put in the last touches on their own class room and it comes to me that summer is truly ending.
If I could describe to you what summer was like for me I would tell you that I literally felt every emotion possible and I held on tight to joy waves I forced myself to find. Because when my Summer started, it started off with learning that my mother is dying of incurable cancer. Knowing that I have just a few years if that with her, left me burying my soul in a pile of deep dark seeping despair.
How could I continue to have joy when she will loose all hers? How can I keep moving forward knowing that when she does it could lead to the end for her? How do I move on with life when she will loose hers?
I spent days, weeks in this fog of where do I go from here? and the moment I stepped out of it was when she told me as she held me tight before one of her surgeries that she wanted me to live FULL. To have every ounce of joy I could muster that she wanted to know that I would go on, go out and do all and be all and experience it all and have as much life as I could.
And even though she is still fighting everyday to do the same it gave me the permission to move forwarded knowing that I was doing it in honor of her not in spite of her.
So I let my summer be filled with days that my children remembered. I went to festivals, parks, splash pads, swimming, hikes to the rivers. I laughed with friends and went on over night stays and filled my cup with business gatherings and lunch dates and love. I cuddled my husband, traced his freckles with my fingers to remember what his checks looked like after we made love. I cried and held my mom. I made art, I sold art. I made friends and told jokes and I danced.
The summer is ending, yes. School is starting, yes. My days and nights will start to look a little different again, yes. My time will be limited and I will have to choose wisely what I wish to spend it on, yes.
But what I do know is that even in the times that your heart hurts to the point of breaking you still can find the joy in the cracks and I give you permission just as my mom did to keep living a full life.
To go after what you can, to get as much life as you can, with all the time that you are here with us. That waiting for the sadness to despite will only allow it to stay longer. But running towards the fleeting joy will help relieve the hold that depression has on you.
Whatever that looks like for you I hope you embrace that. I hope that you come to terms with knowing that you can be sad and be joyous all at the same time. It just comes down to which one you pay more attention too. For me there a days that I relish in the sadness just like there are days that I cuddle among the joy.
I get that it can be hard to know what to do when you are in the middle of it all so when my kids have big feelings I ask them to remind themselves who is in control and in the mist of snot and tears they’ll squeak out ” I AM! I am in control.” and I say yes you are! You are in control of how you want to feel about this situation. If crying is needed, cry. If laughing feels better, do that. If hugging helps, lets hug. If cuddling under a blanket shutting out the world feels better today than okay do it. Just know that whatever it is you feel like you need you get to be in control of it.
You get to live a full life. One with joy in spite of circumstances you are in. You are in control even when it doesn’t feel like it. You have my permission if you need it to move forward. I challenge you to look for one thing. Big or small that brings you just a sliver of happiness, contentment or anything else you need and grab a hold of that today and just enjoy.
Like for me right now. It is watching the trees blow in the wind outside of my classroom window and words. These words bring me joy. And although my mom is still dying and my summer is ending I know that I have the control over whether or not I can be sad about it all or find the joy in it instead.
I pick joy.