"The word happiness would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."
~ Carl Jung
I was reminded of Jung's quote this past week as it has been a week of both pronounced happiness and pronounced sadness. In the midst of news that two friends had been diagnosed with cancer and an acquaintance had committed suicide, we also got the news that John's biopsy for possible prostate cancer had proven negative. Sadness and happiness within a matter of days,
I think I first grasped this idea on a Saturday almost 50 years ago, although I couldn't have expressed it as such that day. Early that morning my ex and I, visiting our families for the first time since we had married and moved to California, were awakened with a frantic call from my grandmother. Grandpa was having a heart attack. We raced to their home to see him being put into an ambulance, and within an hour, got the news that he had died.
While my parents and aunts and uncles attempted to console my grandmother and each other, I, as the eldest grandchild, was assigned the task of helping my siblings and cousins stay calm in the midst of Sicilian grief. How I managed, I can't recall, but somehow we got through the morning.
And then, that afternoon, I changed clothes and attended the wedding of my ex's younger sister, the original reason for our visit. A death and grief in the morning, a wedding and joy in the afternoon. I do recall, vividly, two clear, distinct thoughts - "This is surrealistic." Followed in the next breath - "I guess this is just the nature of life."
I expect, as we go forward, there will be more weeks like this past one. Weeks with news that someone or some ones we love are facing a health challenge or have died. We are, after all in our 70's now, living in a community that attracts retirees. We most certainly will not go unscathed. I have recognized this for some time. What is clearer to me, however, is my responsibility to seek the happy moments, to create them with greater attention and diligence, and always, always to be grateful for them.