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Be A Light in Your Own Darkness

Updated on December 24, 2017
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Donna, AKA Cygnet Brown is a recent honors graduate of Argosy University. She is an author of four books and a long time gardener.

My Sister's Influence

Many years ago when I was a very young child, I remember the day when Dad took my brother to Aunt Mary's house and we had a nice week long visit. I don't remember wondering where my mother was. I don't know what I felt about her not being there. I just remember watching her use her dishwasher and remembering that when I came home I discovered that i had a baby sister lying in the buggy in the living room.

I remember going into the living room and looking into the buggy and seeing a sleeping baby. I remember that I was not very impressed. But then why should I have been? I was less than three years old! My brother and I went up to our bedroom to play with our toys. Little did I know that this little baby would be the influence she has become in my life.

She Taught Me to Stay Positive

My sister had the ability to look at the bright side, no matter how dark things appeared. After an early snowstorm in Northwestern Pennsylvania, my sister pointed out a rainbow in the western sky. She looked for and usually found the bright spot of any gloomy day.

I marveled at her ability to find the positive in any situation. I had to ask myself what would happen if I too were to focus on the good rather than the negative. I discovered that it didn't always change the circumstances, but it certainly seemed to make those situations less formidable. I discovered that I am better able to make it through those difficult situations, because one day that situation would end and I looked forward to the "rainbow" that was certain to come when the situation ended.

I notice that when I looked at the bright side, I felt as if I had more energy to endure. I have learned that looking at things negatively creates a black hole that not only depletes my energy, but the energy of everyone else around me. My sister came to that knowledge all by herself. I learned it from her, and I am the elder sister.

She Taught Me to Focus on What I Could Control Rather than What I Couldn't

When my sister felt overwhelmed by the events of her life, she focused on what she could control rather than on the things she couldn't control. She did not worry about how long she had on this earth, but on what she could do with the days that she had left. She also looked at ways that she could help others cope better with their lives.

Nothing she did prevented any of the pain that she faced, but she focused on her attitude regarding her here and now. She couldn't control medical bills that were piling up, but she did make the best use of whatever income that she did have.

She was not able to add one day to her life, but she did spend the time she did have with her grandchildren. The time that she spent baking cookies with them is a memory they will always remember her.

She Taught Me to Be Grateful

My sister knew that being grateful for what she had empowers her, and she taught me that as well.

You don't believe it? Stop for a minute and think about all the things that make you grateful. Notice how much more energy you seem to have after feeling gratitude.

When I awaken in the morning, I write down and take a few minutes to meditate upon all the things that I feel grateful for that day. This one exercise does me more good than that first cup of coffee does to get me going, I learned to be grateful for what I have from her.

She Taught Me to Stop And Smell The Roses

Taking time to enjoy the sensations of little pleasures of life is also important. We rush from one event to the next, trying to keep our schedules and for what?

My sister had two big dogs in her home that she loved dearly and that she enjoyed spending time with. They reminded her that sometimes you have to sit back and relax and take a few minutes just to enjoy the moment.

I personally don't have pets. I prefer to get out and walk in nature. I feel refreshed and invigorated after a good quiet stroll in the woods. If I have a lull in my creativity, communion with nature gives me the boost I need. We can all find a way that helps ground us when circumstances overwhelm us.

She Taught Me To Be Generous

My sister was a very giving person. I am much more miserly with my possessions and my feelings than my sister, and that is something that my sister had shown me that I need to change.

My sister may not have had much, but she definitely was generous with what she did have. Years ago she gave one of her kidneys because without it, one of our cousins would have died. When our parents grew too old to care for their home, she took over responsibility for them and the house. She and her husband spent thousands of dollars repairing the home and making sure that my parents were well cared for. Of course, she ended up owning the house, but she put far more into getting it than if she would have if she ignored their needs and done what might have been a better choice for her.

She helped others in other smaller ways as well. She has helped with numerous fund raisers for numerous individuals with specific needs.Including another cousin who also had cancer.

The day always seemed to get got brighter if my sister crossed your path.When she had nothing else to give, she always had a smile and a kind word.

Let your light so shine before men, that they should see your good works and glorify your father which is in Heaven. Matthew 5:16
Let your light so shine before men, that they should see your good works and glorify your father which is in Heaven. Matthew 5:16

She Taught Me to Laugh and Share It

Every day on Facebook, my sister would always share some silly cartoon or some profound saying. I couldn't think of a day that went by that she didn't share something that made me laugh. What she shared was never unkind or malicious. It is simply funny.

When I was feeling down and I need a lift, I checked out my sister's page on Facebook.Even on the day she died she took the time to post a little joke.That was the kind of person that she was.

When The Challenges of Life Come

My sister was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. The doctors gave her only 2 months if she didn't get chemo and radiation, two years if she did. She opted for the treatments because she wanted to be around for her children and grandchildren.

She was facing this challenge in her life with strength that I can only imagine. What I admired most about her whole ordeal was the fact that she stayed positive no matter what happened. She always had a smile, even when she was in pain. She always encouraged others to look at the bright side and to appreciate every day as though it were the last.

She taught me that happiness was all about perspective. We could laugh or we could cry. She never took herself too seriously. She always thought that the difference between someone laughing at you or laughing at you was whether or not you were laughing. We hate our lives or we can love it. It is all in how we chose to see it. We can curse the darkness or be our own light. That is our choice.

My sister and her husband
My sister and her husband

She was a Precious Jewel

My sister took her last breath on April 16, 2014 a year and a half after she was diagnosed and after doing everything she could to fight the cancer. She died in her own home surrounded by family and friends who loved her. Her funeral was held a few days later in a packed church. Two hundred people came to mourn her passing including most of the members of the local motorcycle club. Her greatest legacy was that she put others before herself. She was a jewel and her memory continues to warm the hearts of everyone she knew.

We'll miss you, Carol.

© 2013 Cygnet Brown


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    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thanks, tobusiness, since writing this article, we lost our father and one of our brothers. We have been doing our best to keep one another's spirits up. That is the beauty of sisterhood.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      A beautiful and very inspirational article. Your sister sounds like a wonderful woman, I'm so sorry about the cancer, her very positive outlook to life can only help. Good wishes to you both.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thank you Alise-Evon for your kind words. when you spoke of scripture, Philippians 4:8 came to mind. Which essentially says that we should think always on the good things of life.

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      Alise- Evon 4 years ago

      What a beautiful piece about your sister, cygnetbrown!

      Scripture surely has a lot to say about what we should be talking about and meditating on, and science is finding all sorts of fascinating facts about the human body that back it up with minute details.

      Voted beautiful and shared.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Everybody has bad days at times, even my sister. It matters less that we get down sometimes than it does that we get back up!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I have a friend who is like your sister- able to find the bright spot in a gloomy day. Though I do try to emulate that way of thinking, sometimes I can't fully bring myself to do it, but...I definitely try! Great hub. Thanks for sharing!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thank you, Annemarie for coming and commenting here. That means a lot to me as well.

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      Annemarie Schuetz 4 years ago

      This is so beautiful, Donna. What a gift for your sister. And what an amazing person she must be. I feel a little blessed just to be reading about this.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thank you Stages of Me. I appreciate your comments.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 4 years ago

      A beautiful gift for your sister. I love my sisters, my two born to my parents, my sisters from family marriages and my own marriage, my sisters in fellowship and friendship, all are wonderous to me. So lovely of you to reflect here and so nicley done. Prayers tht her birthday is blessed and knowing this piece will touch the hearts of many. Blessing to you both :)

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thanks, Barbara Kay! LongTimeMother, I am glad I met her too.

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      Happy birthday to your sister. I am pleased to have met her through this hub. :)

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      It sounds like your sister is an amazing person. I'll send some prayers out for her.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Tomorrow is her birthday so I got it finished so that I can share it with her! Yes, she is an amazing person!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Blessings to your sister. She sounds like one heck of a human being. I happen to prescribe to her philosophy. I often say "have a nice day unless you made other plans" because often time it is just that simple. Today I choose to be happy and it makes all the difference. :) Well done and great message.