The hospital had never been cleaner, but my blood was everywhere. The doctor wore a level of personal protective equipment that could save her from not just an unknown disease, but an alien invasion. In all her sickness-blocking gear, she positioned herself in front of me to deliver my baby.
Fear reigned that April. I held my husband’s hand, and we locked eyes as we both recognized the favorite song playing over our portable speaker. Colony House sang to us in the middle of a life-changing moment that some lanterns “never flicker as storm winds blow.” As my son takes wobbly steps toward his first birthday this spring, I look back and realize that we spent the past year learning exactly that.
Many months into the pandemic, everyone had both lost and gained. Hearts felt uncertainty, and we watched as our world changed. Yet, time continued to pass. People still celebrated birthday with car parades, held virtual graduation ceremonies and connected through Facetime calls.
While the world spun into chaos, I brought home my first baby, and my nest became a tornado of its own. We lived sleepless nights and smiling days. The past year was cheering on each other and our baby as he reached milestones, celebrating daily in the midst of a broken world. My husband and I learned the bravery it takes to laugh while hardship hangs overhead.
My husband and I learned the bravery it takes to laugh while hardship hangs overhead.
Courage, we are often told, is a grand trait, one reserved for war heroes and leaders. However, the quiet heroes are the ones I’ve become more drawn to after this year—those people who are willing to seek out joy when others look past it. I am no master at this, and I won’t pretend to be. I submit to fear more often than I wish to.
Yet, as new parents we giggled in delight when our little one made his first spit bubbles, threw a spoon or gave us a grin. We found ourselves breaking from the hardship of 2020 by finding rest in our little family, our own beacon of light. We learned that the most joyful moments of this year were the ones where we each chose to celebrate the goodness in front of us, anticipated or not.
We learned that the most joyful moments of this year were the ones where we each chose to celebrate the goodness in front of us.
Through the act of calling out the joy around us, we reminded ourselves to be active participants, intentional delight seekers. We spoke out loud the goodness we saw, giving voice to the light when the headlines seemed to overwhelm with darkness. When joy was hard to find on media outlets, we made our own news—to balance the reality of a difficult world with the truth of a simple, joyful life.
By slowing down, we gave ourselves room to take a pause and enjoy celebrations when they did arise. When we were too concerned with the next crisis, we missed the moments right in front of us. It was the room in our schedules that made way for extended bedtime snuggles or unexpected fits of laughter on the floor.
When we turned off technology, we gave each other the gift of our full presence and made the people in front of us the only ones in the room. Each time we opened our phones in the bedroom or the living room to check the news, we realized that we were inviting another voice into the room. By silencing those voices, we honored those we were with.
By slowing down, we gave ourselves room to take a pause and enjoy celebrations when they did arise.
By practicing thankfulness, we turned our eyes toward a story greater than ourselves. When we practiced gratitude for what we had, we recognized that there were more people than us in the world, with different needs, hopes and dreams. We realized that what we had was a gift and what others had was their gift. We allowed ourselves to be small in the great mass of world that we didn’t understand.
The pandemic has taught us all individual lessons. After more than a year of living under its effects, I know mine. We each can decide with boldness to seek out these celebratory moments during the next crisis or simply the next day. When I and other bold, daring women lean into this choice, we shine out like a lighthouse, beckoning others around us into celebration regardless of circumstance.