As the sun set on August 18, 2015, the day my mom passed away, to me, so too did all goodness, justice and joy in the world. Suddenly, the world seemed dark, mysterious and grim. My mom was a beautiful soul, a gift of a mother, wife, sister, aunt and daughter, a cherished friend and a one-of-a-kind human being who bravely fought back during an acute battle with depression before taking her own life.
The saying, “even in the dark we can whistle,” became my enduring refrain. Early on, feeling bruised with deep, heart-broken, homesick pain, my meager whistle was nothing more than a statement of presence. “I’m still here.” As time trudged on, my whistle became less labored and more frequent. My tune became less for survival, more about thriving. Under the pain, sadness, and darkness, there was an unmistakable melody joining with other grievers refusing darkness to dictate the late note.
Daily, I set out to whistle. Even if brief and labored, wretched in sound, I desperately hunted for small glimpses of good and beauty among such devastating times.
A knowing smile, the kind of hug you just melt into, sharing joyful memories of my mom and a family of four, hearing mutual stories of despair met with compassion and deeper relationships, small tokens of love or friendship, generous cards long after the immediate shock of losing my mom: All are just a few of the gifts – or whistles – I gathered up and breathed sustenance from along the journey.
Hurt, pain and sadness are an all too common experience for many. I am not the first to experience heartbreak and certainly not the last.
But now through my experience of heart-break and the example of others who so diligently cared for me and my family, it is now my great privilege to set out and attempt to spread hope – maybe a whistle during your day.
I hope to share my experiences as we simultaneously mourn life’s imminent hardships and dance through the beauty of hope, whistling as we go.