We had an insanely busy May as a family, and not everything that happened was bad. In fact, two events were life changing moments of pure joy.
Or at least they were meant to be.
My niece was born May 13th and my husband and I were married May 17th. My mother had surgery May 4th, though, and we were still struggling through that. It felt odd, the switch between hardship and joy throughout the month. One minute we were all constantly texting and calling, checking on each other and passing information back and forth about how my mother was recovering. The next, we were texting and calling about my sister-in-law and niece, getting pictures and shedding tears of happiness instead of sorrow (she has so much hair! she’s so precious! look at that face!). Immediately after, we were texting and sending pictures of our wedding weekend, of my husband’s commissioning, graduation, and our wedding ceremony.
It was a whirlwind of emotions. There were plenty of times when I felt guilty for feeling happy during my wedding weekend. It was a weird sort of guilt, the guilt of dragging my mother out of the house to go to the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and wedding when she should have been home resting. But there was also a deeper sort of joy, beyond getting married and being an aunt, a deeper kind that was purely the joy that mom was there to share it all with us, the joy that she had made it through and was going to get better.
Before her surgery was scheduled, we weren’t sure if she’d make it to the wedding or still be in the hospital. I petulantly told my husband that if she didn’t make it to the wedding, neither would I. I think I told him to “marry himself, then,” when he tried to tell me I was being ridiculous. I couldn’t imagine going through that day without her, couldn’t imagine walking down the aisle without seeing her in the front row. Her surgeon was amazing, though, and made sure she was rushed into surgery before my wedding, so that we knew she’d be released and able to attend. We were all so happy that weekend, especially after my niece’s birth only a few days before.
The guilt gradually went away, because honestly I think we all needed things to be happy about.
That’s just it. There shouldn’t be any guilt about joyous events. They were all so wonderful, and they were the boost we all needed as a family. My mother has been so happy, getting daily photos of her first grandchild, seeing the photos from our wedding, knowing that we all have things to look forward to. Joy is the only reason to keep going, and during cancer you need joy most of all. Celebrate joy, never let yourself feel guilty for being happy, even as you’re struggling. Especially when you’re struggling. That’s when joy matters the most.