Katherine Perez is a writer at BHSEC in Cleveland. She is the recipient of the 2019 Achievement Award in Dance.
There are so many moments in one’s life that make us believe there is no hope. My life has been a roller coaster of emotions, and sometimes I lose hope. When looking through my life, there are two main parts, light and darkness. Although I experience darkness more than light, through Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul and Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark, I realize that life consists of a balance between both. I know the importance of this balance.
My mom was recently diagnosed with polycystic kidneys. This means that she has cysts all over her kidneys that shut it down and stop her ability to urinate. About four years ago, she started her treatment of dialysis, in order to help her clean out her body. None of us were prepared for everything that came with it. She receives dialysis three times a week. After treatment, my mom is left with no energy or strength. She becomes weak and vulnerable, two characteristics that I have rarely seen from her. Although I knew it would be hard, I wasn’t prepared for all the hard times that came with it.
Most of the darkness in my life has come from my mom’s illness. After she started her treatment, she has had many life threatening complications. All the emergency room visits and appointments have put me in a dark place in my mind. Sadness and depression take over me. Like Solnit writes, “the sense that you will always be mired in this misery, that nothing can or will change” overshadows any hope that I could have of her getting better (19). I know that my mom is suffering. Not knowing when or if that suffering will change makes me hopeless. I hate not knowing when things will get better for her, and that makes me wonder what my future will look like. Everyday I wonder if my mom will be able to experience all my accomplishments, like my high school graduation, my wedding, or even meet my first child. For Solnit, “There are times when it seems as though not only the future but the present is dark” (1). Thinking about the possibility of my mom not being by my side in the future blurs my present. Even though I’m thinking about the future, my present fills with sadness. My mind puts her being with me now aside and focuses on the fact that she might not be with me throughout my future.
Although my world is overcome by darkness concerning my mom’s health, I have had so many moments filled with light. All those nights by her hospital beds, I would put up a front. I wouldn’t let any of my darkness show through because I didn’t want to project that into her world. I didn’t want her to remember all of our moments as sad and depressing, even though we were in the hospital. I would always crack a joke or compliment her to try and make those experiences easier for both of us. Solnit finds that the “memory of joy and liberation can become a navigation tool” (24). My mom is my best friend, and she identifies as a joyful, happy person. I wanted to make sure that in the moments she needed me most, my “gift” to her would be light (24). Every time she smiled felt like a ray of sunshine was shining in me; the laugh that would come out of her mouth after a joke tickled my heart, and every subtle “I love you” gave me hope, and in a way was returned as an even bigger gift. Those moments is where happiness matters most, because it would navigate us out of the dark.
Light and darkness both have their moments of spotlight, but overall, they carry a balance throughout my life. After thinking about each dark moment, a memory filled with light follows. Experiencing all the hard moments, and seeing how they drain her, inspires me to create the light she needs to move forward. Thomas Moore writes that a “life lived soulfully is not without its moments of darkness and periods of foolishness” (17). I see foolishness as a moment of laughter and enjoyment. There will always be a balance. You won’t be able to experience one without the other. Our life is “shaped by both pain and pleasure, success and failure,” meaning that as life goes on you won’t be able to avoid one, because you will have to go through both (Moore 17). If I wouldn’t have experienced all the terrifying moments by my mom’s side where it seemed like the world was ending, maybe I wouldn’t have been able to hear all those stories she has told me that have brought her so much joy, or maybe we wouldn’t have become as close as we are. The role that the balance carries in our lives is what makes our world continue, and gives us some of our best moments and memories.
We tend to look past the balance between light and darkness and focus on whichever drains us the most. We isolate our thoughts with scenarios, and make ourselves believe that we will always be in that state of mind, whether it’s through happiness or sadness. Even though it may seem difficult, we need to try and stop ourselves. Instead of becoming paranoid and stuck, we need to become open minded and free. Maybe once you start doing it yourself, you will influence the world around you.