Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my dear friend Cynthia’s death. Cynthia was a busy, bubbly person, spreading love wherever she went. I called her “my effervescent queen” because of the buoyant quality about her. Even in the last hours of her life she was seeing the magic in the moment. It is horrible to witness the wasting death of cancer in a dearly loved one. Yet the essential Cynthia shone through.
Despite her effervescent nature, Cynthia’s life wasn’t all happiness. She had challenges and pain. Like all of us, she had childhood pain, which she grappled with as an adult. She wrestled with the grief that comes with infertility and other challenges as well. Her cancer brought physical pain and added layers to the grief and loss she carried.
Some of us are incapable of facing our cruel demons, yet Cynthia tackled it all, the emotional, physical, and spiritual pain of it. Through it she had this buoyancy of spirit which spread love and light to the people in her life. She radiated this internal liveliness, it was infectious, and helped all of us who were fortunate enough to journey along with her.
I write this because I miss her terribly, but also because I deeply believe this is possible for each one of us. We all have challenges, deep pain, and loss. It comes with the territory. Welcome to the human race, as I like to tell myself. And we have joy and grace available, in equal measure, at each moment. Yes, there is pain. Yes, there is joy.
It isn’t a one or the other proposition. We have all of it, at any given moment. The question isn’t one of either pain or of joy. The question is: will you say yes to whatever is? We have the opportunity to experience the fullness of it all. The joy, the sorrow, the loneliness, the quiet contentment, the regret, the sense of grace, the profound grief, the deep connections. They are all there. Now.
This is the image of Cynthia and her gift to me: she is saying yes to all of it. I’ve written about her before, and probably will again. Because she has this enduring quality about her. The gift of yes. Yes to life in all its pain and wonder.