I don’t need to tell you what kind of year it’s been. You know. There are no amount of silver linings that can replace the lives lost. I keep thinking about something Andy, one of my best friends, said before “it” all began: “we have an ethical obligation to search for hope. We don’t have to find it, but we have to try.” I paraphrase. There have been many days this year when not only was hope out of sight, but I didn’t even have the energy to try and look for it. I walked the same streets a hundred times. From my balcony, I watched fires burn in the hills and in the neighbors crossing the street. Darkness has been heavy. Our mortality thick in the air. There were days when I let time slip out of my grasp and fall beyond any search for hope. Undoubtedly, there are more of those days to come. 

But there were also days perched on the edge of a canyon, eye to eye with mountains. There were nights dancing in the streets, being surprised by the bigness of the moon. There were unusual and beautiful holidays. There were baseball games and sunsets. There were more hours spent on the phone than when I was 12. There was joy in good food and shooting stars. There was poetry in me for the first time in years. 

And now? Now there are new friends grown through the intimacy of webcams, cell towers, and six feet of space. Now we know more about ourselves and the world than we did before. I’ve grown acquainted with backbreaking emotional labor and seen its fruit. I’ve practiced vulnerability. I’ve practiced conflict. I’ve practiced speaking up. I’ve practiced…. a lot. There is a confidence in my step that’s new. I’m using my voice. I’m seeing what’s been there all along. 

There are no silver linings. There is only what happens. All muddled throughout grief, there is laughter. All blended between tears, there is joy. The marriage of sorrow and smiles lives in our bones. Our hearts broke this past year. We unlearned our lives. It is within us to always seek hope and the beautiful things. We may not find them. We may look at the night sky and see only the vastness of space. But we will look. And we will learn to live again.