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Be a Light in Your Own Darkness

Updated on January 11, 2023
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Cygnet Brown is a high school and middle school substitute teacher. She is the author of fourteen 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 the moment when I came home to discover 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 became 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 about 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.

She couldn't prevent the pain 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 she did have so that her husband wouldn't have to face the debt later.

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

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 the 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 whom 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 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 fundraisers 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 | Source

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 when 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 two months if she didn't get chemo and radiation, and two years if she did. She opted for the treatments because she wanted to spend whatever time she had left with her children and grandchildren.

She was facing this challenge in her life with a 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 can hate our lives or we can love them. 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 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Cygnet Brown


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