I don’t want my children to think sadness is only reserved for people in a tough spot. Part of the reason I’m ever telling my story as their mother is because I find it really important to share with them life’s layers. Like, how I was in a full season of celebrating, and that season of celebrating opened to another season of something else. A brief season of melancholy under the gray fall sky.
This weekend, as summer turned to fall, and as we rode bikes, as I took the ferry over the river, as I just walked around, I thought a lot about what it means to have a moment to just be sad. A moment. A day. If necessary, even a week to settle into the inevitability of human nature. Many of my friends and I have talked about this on the phone, and I realized: I struggle with sadness as a normal occurrence because I feel guilty. In my life, I feel drenched in privilege. To feel anything but joy when life is this good feels spoiled. I’ve seen a not-so good life; mine’s good. What reason is there to be sad? “Just be present!” I beg of myself.
But then I look at my kids, and I see how each of them swims between joy and sadness at different moments. Sometimes I move along with them; sometimes I leave them to sit in it as they wish, sorting through it to find strength. I leave my kids to do this, but I find it incredibly difficult to do myself: sit in sadness. It’s easier to push past, get things done, move along.
The leaves started to fall in New York last week. And this weekend, I grabbed our jackets from the top shelf of the closet. Today, I’m wearing black in solidarity with survivors. This afternoon, when I get the kids, I’ll smile and beam with a day’s worth of missing them kind of joy. Fall is a season to take in slowly, allowing for the subtle way things turn and take shape, and, eventually, fall away. I like the idea of letting this happen within our bodies too.
(Photography by Amanda Petersen for LaTonya Yvette)