So I am currently stricken with the bubonic plague. I’m not exaggerating. (I’m completely exaggerating.) My cello teacher—one of my absolute favorite people, in case anyone hasn’t caught on yet—called me a drama queen the other day for complaining about a fingering he gave me. I responded by telling him I couldn’t read the fingering through my tears. We have a really excellent student-teacher relationship, founded on respect and maturity.
Anyway. So I’m sick. I have been since I woke up at 6 on Wednesday with a sore throat and a nearly sniffly nose. I felt like I was going to cry—it would have been alright if it’d just been an isolated incident, but not only was this sudden descent of disease coinciding with Thanksgiving break, it was also adding a nasty twist to something I’d been looking forward to for at least a year. One of my good friends, Sarah, was coming down from college to stay with me for Thanksgiving break, and suddenly I was worried her entire visit would be miserable because I suddenly fell ill out of nowhere. After shooting off some distressed and whiny texts to a good friend, I went back to sleep and tried not to worry. The first morning is always the worst, right?
Well, it wasn’t the worst. We picked up Sarah and I felt fine, but as Wednesday went on, things spiraled consistently downward. In an attempt to be funny, and thanks to a lot of banter with my brother, my extremely negative, sarcastic streak reared its ugly head. I said ‘I hate [insert name of anything here]’ more than anything else, then we went out to dinner at literally the worst Mexican place ever, where I burnt my hand on a plate in addition to attempting to eat awful food, and came back home feeling awful, nauseous, and like Sarah was having a horrible time. I woke up Thursday with my voice nearly shot through, rasping like crazy and coughing like you wouldn’t believe—but I was determined to have a better day. It was Thanksgiving, after all, I was with a great friend for the first time, I wasn’t in a load of pain, and if I continued on the way I had the day before, I probably would have totally lost it. And lo and behold, everything was better. My usually unbearable relatives were surprisingly okay, the food was delicious, Sarah and I watched movies and chatted and everything felt better.
The day after Thanksgiving, Sarah and I went to see Catching Fire because my voice was absolutely gone and I needed an activity that didn’t involve talking too much—but it was so excellent that we had to talk about it for ages. And despite the fact that it was painful for me to speak, we still ended up staying up until 11 talking that night. I was so happy, because Sarah and I spent her whole visit kind of lounging around and I was worried that she would be bored, but we ended up having such a great time just hanging out and being around each other. I went to bed feeling awesome, aside from being completely disease-ridden. Then Saturday came. I’d felt much better Saturday morning, but as the day went on I felt worse and worse; by evening, I thought I’d developed a fever (I hadn’t) and was coping by rolling around on the floor making whining noises and hitting things.
But before I went to bed Saturday night, I texted a friend and asked him how his day had been. He said it was alright, then asked the same. As I thought over the day to reply, I realized that even though I’d spent the latter half of the day complaining about how I was “dying” and coughing violently and feeling like I was going to vomit, it was actually a really wonderful, beautiful, happy day. I told him that I always seemed to focus on the negatives in the moment, but upon reflection, saw how the positives outweighed them. Yes, I felt awful. Dreadful, horrid, evil, awful. But actual nice things came out of that—and nice things happened besides. I managed to have a really great time with Sarah; Essie came over and everyone got along; my friend Rose and I planned out our hilarious joint funeral (apparently it’s going to be Eminem themed); and because I wasn’t feeling well, one of my best friends was super sweet to me and it meant so much to me. All of these things made me smile amid the crappy, phlegmy, painful sensations of the day. I suddenly realized that the entirety of break and Sarah’s visit had been like that. Yes, I’ve been sick, but rather than my sickness ruining her visit, it’s been quite the reverse… Her visit has ruined my sickness. She’s consistently made me feel better, happier, and made it possible to ignore the fact that I’m probably going to cough up a lung at some point here. I’ve seen this week that even little sparks on a gloomy horizon can shed enough light to see by.
I may not always be able to see the bright side in the moment. But I appreciate the little sparks as they come; I hold them precious and close to my heart, storing up the light for gloomy days when I can’t find any. And maybe, just maybe, seeing the bright side in retrospect is the first step to seeing it all the time.
I am thankful for the sparks—more thankful than I can ever say. But I can appreciate the gloom as well; life isn’t easy, and sometimes it takes a little darkness to see how brightly your lights really shine, to appreciate what you really have and what really matters. Thank you to all the lights in my life, especially to the greatest Light, Who has given me all the others. Where would I be without you?