This editorial originally appeared in volume 23, issue 3 of the Prospective. Staff artist Taylor Hicks did the artwork for the piece.
Every day is a holiday. Today, Dec. 9, is Tanzanian Independence Day, a Christian Feast Day, and a Swedish holiday that celebrates all people named Anna (congratulations, Annas). Every day has a cause for celebration, whether it be national independence or religion or having the 52nd most popular female name in America in 2016.
On the flip side, according to the Ecology Global Network, about 105 people die every minute. People break up. Divorces are filed. Dogs pass away.
Odds are, you have fallen victim to at least one of those tragedies. If you have not yet, you will.
When it happens, the pain will feel unbearable at first. You will believe that nobody else has hurt this badly before, that your suffering is abnormally strong. It won’t just be your heart; your body will ache. Your lungs will clench, your limbs will fall tired, your stomach will churn and the sadness will become physical, almost tangible.
Maybe then, you’ll decide to distract yourself. You put in your headphones, clean your room, organize your binders, clear out your phone, finally delete all of those emails from Google Classroom that you never check anyway.
And regardless of your sadness, there are things to do. Homework, practices, football games. The world is spinning too rapidly to slow down for misery.
The preoccupation helps. There’s barely enough time to do that math packet, much less time to cry.
But then, things start to slow down. The football games end. Thursday nights are no longer spent looking for student section-worthy attire. It’s senior skip day, Memorial Day, CAPS conferences, Thanksgiving break. There’s still the same amount of homework and the same pile of laundry that needs to be folded and the same four water bottles you haven’t picked up in your room yet, but everything starts to seem much less urgent.
And now, it’s the holidays. Cool weather, sweaters, seasonal lattes, whatever else those lists on Twitter considers the epitomes of cool weather and happiness. It’s now acceptable to blare Mariah Carey and Michael Buble’s Christmas albums (as if you didn’t do that year-round anyway.)
For those who have felt the tragedy and sadness of loss, this is the worst time of year. The nights become too dark too quickly, and the free time in schedules leaves room for all of the despair that was once put off to return full-force.
The pain will return, and, again, you will be in disbelief of how strong it is. It will seem insurmountable.
But life moves on, as will you. Maybe not willingly, but it will happen. Even if you can’t get over the tragedy, everything around you is simply moving too quickly for you to not get at least a little caught up in it.
The sun may be setting now, and darkness is on the horizon. However, as Oscar Wilde put it, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
It may feel like the darkness will last forever. It will take time, but the sun will rise. Until then, find the stars.