The past week was one of stark contrasts.
Pasts and futures. Sobs and smiles.
Saturday marked the culmination of this roller coaster. I began my day at a funeral- saying goodbye to an old friend who unexpectedly left this world; too soon and far too young. I spent the later part of my day surrounded by friends and family, celebrating the graduation of my little sister.
It was a collision of emotions. My heart ached with pain for the friend whose journey was too short and for the family he left behind. Then it swelled with pride and excitement for the sister who is about to embark on a new journey of her own.
For a moment, I felt so guilty. I was chopping in my parents’ kitchen when relatives started pouring in. Suddenly, surrounded by the chatter and laughter of my family, I felt my chest tighten and my stomach drop. It seemed unfair on so many levels: my family was celebrating while another family was grieving. My mind went to the darkest place it could, and all I could think of was all of the people who should be there and weren’t; the friends I have fallen out of touch with; and each and every difficult emotion I felt this past week. I had to hide out in my old bedroom for a while.
And then I realized that this is it, this is what life is about: the juxtaposition of joy and pain. Over and over and over again. You cannot have one without the other.
And to truly live you have to let both in and really feel them.
Some aspects of life are unfair and, for lack of more eloquent terminology, so fucking sad. They will never make sense, no matter how much time we spend trying to figure it all out. We are separated from people we love and care about all too often- through distance, death, time, or circumstance. Our time is limited and uncertain. The best we can do is live fully and honestly. We have to embrace the happy moments and let the people we care about know how we feel at every opportunity.
So, I went back to the party. I smiled, laughed, and ran around my backyard with bare feet. I ate too much and took goofy pictures. I said I love you – a lot. I played games and drank Bud Lights. I hugged my parents, my sisters, and everyone else. I had fun.
And, no matter what challenges or heartaches come my way, I will not take that for granted.