Light Always Makes Dark
On a cold afternoon in late November when my then 3-year-old son and I were playing shadow puppets snuggled up against the weather in his bedroom he made the statement, “Light always makes dark.” For him, he was simply stating an observation he made while playing with his mom, a flashlight, a few stuffed animals and some action figures. For me, it was a profound summary of that moment, and every moment leading up to it, starting eight years earlier when his father and I first met.
This series of images is about how the gift of this family did not come without strings attached. The intense illumination of them is inseparable from the deep shadows of worry, fear, and anxiety that arrived when they did. I spend most days basking in the glow and warmth that my children and their father have brought to my life. I am grateful for every minute and behave as such. I have never felt more connected, competent, or necessary. Yet, I worry almost obsessively about my son’s todays and tomorrows. Will they be happy? Will they make somebody else happy? Will the world be kind to them? Will they be kind to the world? I fear things I cannot see, cannot predict, and cannot control. Sickness, loneliness, secrets, war, abuse, depression, cruelty, self worth, heartbreak…the list is endless. I have anxiety about my ability to guide them to independence and a fulfilling adulthood. I am scared of being responsible for something so precious and so delicate.
When I was a young adult I watched my mother lose her husband, my father, to a short but vicious battle with cancer. I saw her world that was thick and rich with laughter, hope, plans, accomplishments, security, support, and partnership unravel in a matter of weeks. I saw a man whom I had always viewed as strong, brilliant, funny, selfless, and engaged wither to a whisper of his former self and then disappear altogether. It was tragic and agonizing for them and for their children. I fear being in my mother’s shoes. I fear seeing my husband meet the same fate as my father.
Now that I know this luminous life, I want it. I cannot live without it. I also now know that to have it, I have to accept the dark that the light always makes.