It is a gray day today, after a gray day, after a rainy day and I am dragging just a bit. The dandelions (which I broke down and attacked large swaths of with spray) haven’t had the energy to open their yellow faces for half of this week. I know how they feel, who doesn’t start to lag when the sun is hidden for too long?
We aren’t flowers, but still we will start to wilt without some sun – we are wired to have at least a touch of seasonal affective disorder I suppose. Even those who get shut up into artificial environments for many hours five or more days per week. We get energy from the sun, just like solar panels – we need to turn our faces to the sun for just a bit to recharge. (I’m not talking tanning, here.)
I always work harder to pump cheerfulness into my greetings and interactions on days like this, despite the initial energy drain, in hopes to get a return on my investment through a smile and upbeat response from my counterpart – especially once I entered management because personal energy has great effect on job performance. Indeed our performance in general.
Joyful events seem so very much more so on sunny days and conversely terrible events seem very much more incongruent on sunny days. (Think of that perfect fall day on 9/11/2001.) But sometimes personal tragedy is ever so slightly lessened by the appearance of the sun.
My mom was having her last adventure, learning to let go of this life as the natural world was shuttering up for its winter dormancy so we had gray days and shades of beige to match our family’s experiences. Our sunshine, light and bundle of energy was sputtering out. But determined to make it one more adventure, forced by her body’s inability to overcome its infirmities her mind continued in its quest to savor curiosity.
My siblings and I took turns with the caretaking duties, which mostly involved the same wonderful philosophical discussions that had characterized our adult relationships with this remarkable woman. Interspersed with learning how to flush a port and other nursing duties. Mom and I were discussing this very topic, the affect that the sun has on our abilities to cope when I lightheartedly mentioned that perhaps she could make her final journey on a sunny day. (We have a vein of dark humor running deep in our family.) She allowed that this would be a worthy goal, neither of us knowing how far into the future this sunny day might be. But knowing it would not be the 4 more years she had hoped for when we last talked to the doctor about the lack of alternative therapies.
It wasn’t but a few days later, maybe a week that the house was waking from a peaceful night to a sunny Friday morning in early December. The caregiver gave mom a sponge bath and I whispered that we would just get her cleaned up and dressed in fresh pajamas and she whispered back ‘ok’. She had mostly stopped talking by then, this woman who still had so much to say.
The overnight caregiver left, my sister was off tending to her young ones (life intrudes regardless of the momentousness of occasions), the hospice nurse was due any minute and my brother would be flying back for his shift in a day or two. I was quietly reading the paper and offhandedly let mom know the day, the date and that the sun was shining.
She accepted the message and left behind this world and her fragile body just as the nurse and my sister arrived.
Now years have passed from that morning and I don’t relate this story to make anyone sad, though I miss her acutely. I see this as a story now of the energy and potential for new adventure that the sun can bring as it shares its light and warmth with us. We just have to be open to the possibility and make a point to gather some energy from the sun when it shines. Having a sunny outlook is a choice.
[Author’s note: About an hour after I wrote this, the sun burned away the clouds, and I went out to enjoy the light. I like to think mom had a hand in that.]
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations