Last April I stepped into a SNL photo booth at a work fundraising gala, and when the photographer said “Show me your fun side,” I let go. For one of the few times in the nine months since my husband had died, I let go of sadness. I let go of overthinking; I let go of panic and anxiety. I actually felt joy and fun. I breathed deeply. But when the photo was developed and I saw the picture of myself looking so free and happy, I was hamstrung by guilt and shame that someone who had experienced such a recent loss looked so happy and carefree. What kind of person was I anyway?
So I tucked the picture away.
But honestly, I liked the picture. It felt like something I could strive for. I liked seeing the happiness, the me that hadn’t breathed deeply in such a long time actually looking as if she could breathe, that she was even quite possibly still alive, if only for a moment.
Here’s the truth. I made up my mind early on after my husband died that I would not let sorrow dominate my life. I felt that I owed that to my children, my husband, my family, friends and myself. But it has been a position I’ve had to fight my own mind for every day since. It’s not the life I would have chosen, but it’s the life I have and I’ve understood all along that it’s my responsibility to make up my mind how I live this out. I can choose to withdraw into dark sorrow or I can walk boldly toward joy on good days and fight for it on bad days.
Today, I choose joy.