Winter solstice 2019. A day that’s filled with light that seems to pull everything sharply into focus. The irony of the shortest day of 2019 is that it’s light is abundant and it’s a shame it has to end so soon. Before long the sun will sink below the horizon giving us the shortest day of the year. When it rises again we will be inching our way towards those long days of summer and a solstice marked by early morning sunrises and late nights filled with light.
The time between these two solstices has been the most challenging I’ve known. A much loved father-in-law was laid to rest on the summer solstice and a grieving husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer two months later. The sorrow, the panic, the fear, the numbness, the slow acceptance. The medical appointments, the surgery, the complications, the healing. The decisions, the chemo, the waiting, the worry. This time between solstices has at times felt otherworldly as if we are watching it unfold as someone else’s story. Surely death and cancer aren’t what this season is about in our lives…we have no experience in such things! The weeks and months since the longest day of the year have been filling with a darkness that has threatened to permeate our hours and instinctively we fight to push it away. One thing is certain…we are ready to move towards sunnier days. It is reassuring to know that the calendar is confirming that we are.
Grief is the companion you slowly get used to. Cancer, one of the scariest words we know, sets up shop in your household and life continues to happen around it. Despite being jolted out of the reverie of a life untouched by death and disease, the patterns of our world continue on. Thankfully, we still get up each morning, we follow the routines of our days, we watch our children find their place in the world and our baby grandson grow. And all the while, the days shorten over a period of time until it’s time for them to lengthen again. At a rate of approximately 2 minutes/ day we are either getting engulfed by darkness or holding the night at bay.
I am finding solace in the solstice. The Northern Hemisphere is moving towards the light now and it seems a good metaphor to believe that we are too. My husband is one of the very lucky ones. His prognosis is good, his chemo is intended to cure. He has about 6 more weeks of treatments. By the time he swallows that last pill and starts down the road to putting this behind him our days will already be filled with 49 more minutes of light. Just shy of an hour of more light in our days is improvement and so is a chemo regimen that comes to a close. Starting tomorrow, we are moving towards brighter days and I am grateful to find myself embracing the promise of a lighter load.