Slices of Life: Joy and sorrow

It’s possible to cry both happy and sad tears all at the same time. It is possible to find true joy, even when you are hurting.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler
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Tonight the sunset was beyond spectacular. It sat low and sinking in the sky in every shade of orange imaginable, plus a dozen or so hues that haven’t been invented yet. Two loons floated serenely on the glassy waters of the lake, their silhouettes small and dark in the foreground among the orange symphony overhead.

We’d had an early evening summer storm, which gave the landscape a surreal misty feel of yellow twinged twilight.

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The grass remained green through the yellow haze. The air was warm, but the breeze by the lake was just cool enough to take the edge off the heat.

As a backdrop, the frogs’ songs were louder than a rock concert, with the loon calls serving as their chorus. Clouds quilted the horizon, adding even more depth and texture to the color-scape. They hung low in the sky, competing with the sun for leading role in the ending of this day.

The clouds were magnificent, but in the end, the sun won out.


I used my state-of-the-art mega, megapixel camera with super duper zooming capacity to try to capture my view from the end of the dock, but photos simply can’t do justice compared to the real thing. Mother Nature beats megapixels any day (or in this case night.) I put down my phone and indulged in a moment to simply take it all in.

It was joyous and breathtaking, and it brought me to tears because beauty that great — when one truly beholds it for what it is in that moment — can be overwhelming.

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It was wonderful. But bittersweet.

The beauty of my surroundings, while breathtaking, made me think of my husband, and I felt a longing for his presence. He would have loved this particular sunset. I know he did, because he always loved sunsets, and I’m pretty sure he isn’t missing any of them now.

A wave of grief washed over me in among the beauty. Hence the duality of emotions.

As I stood watching the day fade away, soaking in the twilight sky, I was filled with joy and melancholy. I had tears of happiness, but they were also tears of sorrow.

I’ve always been an awesome multi-tasker.

The world can often be bittersweet. The word itself is a perfect example of the dichotomy of life. The bitter parts don’t negate the overall beauty — or sweetness. Not at all. In some ways, difficulties magnify the beauty, because the losses of life leave you raw and honest and open to the miracles surrounding you every day.


So, as I stood at the end of the dock, listening to the frogs and the loons and breathing in the last moments of a magnificent sunset, I came to a realization: joy and sorrow aren’t always separate entities. They can exist in tandem — together. And that’s OK. It’s possible to cry both happy and sad tears all at the same time. It is possible to find true joy, even when you are hurting.

I’m not sure which is more beautiful — that revelation or the sunset.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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