On an early evening drive to dinner, my daughter, after looking at the sunset, made this observation : “Momma, look outside the window. There is light on one side. And it is dark on the other.”
Without hesitation, I looked up to my left and saw a bright blue backdrop with streaks of white. To my right, the clouds slept above the horizon and a veil of darkness descended in the sky. I fumbled for my iphone to memorialize the contrast, but my hands were not quick enough to capture the light or the dark. Within minutes, the sky melted together and the two opposite views no longer existed. The sky became one solid continuum.
I thought about one of the darkest moments I witnessed with my father. Toward the end of his illness, almost two weeks before he passed, his body assaulted him with shingles. As much as I want to forget those blisters, I still can remember the look of each one, taunting him and everyone who cared for him. To this day I am baffled by his reaction to what was happening to his body. We repeatedly asked him if he felt any pain, and he said, “No. I don’t feel a thing. It looks like it hurts, but I really don’t feel a single ounce of pain.” My suspicion is that the chemo and the diseased lung killed his capacity to feel pain. In retrospect, the ache resonated not with my father, but with the reactions of myself and my mom. I remember my mom recounting her own experiences with shingles and saying, “How can he not feel the pain? Shingles are so terribly painful. I can still feel that area hurting at times.” I didn’t have any answers for my mom. We watched as the blisters healed and by the time he passed, there wasn’t a single mark on his body indicating that he suffered from shingles. And we were so grateful that the darkness of those shingles didn’t kill any last light my father wanted to experience.
This experience whispers to me in the most unexpected moments and because of it I hesitate toward gravitating toward absolutes. Light and dark, pain and happiness aren’t always that well defined.
What I do realize is this – What lays in the chasm between light and dark ? Hope.
I believe this with my whole heart.