Yesterday, I went to the memorial service for a young woman I'd never met. I was there to support my friend as she honored and celebrated her friend's life and grieved her loss. I felt out of place in a chapel packed with people who knew and loved this woman but I settled into my seat, just hoping my presence would bring some comfort to my friend.
I listened as friends and family shared their memories of her, as they brought to life the smiling woman on the front of the program. I was moved and then I was overcome with a sadness to which I did not feel entitled and then I cried.
I can't explain the emotional reaction but I was reminded of how important it is to live. It is important to find joy in the smallest of things, to love with everything you have and to make sure that you tell the people in your life exactly how you feel.
After we left the memorial, we went out to lunch at the Midtown Global Market where there are many restaurants and as we sat at our table eating, the nearby bar began playing Whitney Houston's cover of I Will Always Love You and the patrons joined in and the older men at the table next to ours joined in and I couldn't help but smile. So much simple joy.
Then, we went down to the Stone Arch Bridge and stared at the swift water of the Mississippi and the perfect blue of the sky and the vibrant yellows of the trees holding onto the last of their leaves. We saw four formal wedding parties posing for pictures and families playing in the park and two bikers kept circling blaring music from their bikes and singing along. More joy.
Today, the weather was much the same and we went to Minnehaha Falls and walked through the woods, the noise of the rushing water nearly drowning out the noise of the many people gathered there. The sunlight found us everywhere we went and even in the shadow of the woods, the light still broke through and as we walked back out, I thought, "This is the kind of day that makes you happy to be alive."
And maybe that's the point.
Even in the face of devastating loss, in times of darkness and uncertainty, we can still be blessed with a small ray of light. No matter what comes next, I'll be looking for the light.