I’m on muscle relaxers today for my sciatic nerve pain, which has come roaring back after taking a four-year hiatus. Intense pain makes a person lose their sense of humor, quickly. This physical pain seems to be an appropriate crescendo to the tragedies I’ve witnessed this past month to people around me. It’s as if their collective emotional pain has settled in my left leg as a reminder.

From my college friend’s sudden loss of her 16-year-old son, to my father’s brother who died a week ago, to my confidante and neighbor who has pancreatic cancer and may be dead by this summer, it seems like death is all around me lately.

And my own physical pain lingers with me all day, making me feel much older than I am.

Since I was raised in the church, I think about the story of Job in the Bible about human suffering, but the Job story isn’t helping me today, nor is the popular AA mantra “this too shall pass,” or the Buddhist notion of radical acceptance.

Nothing is helping me today, and it’s difficult right now to appreciate the tulip bulbs popping up in the front yard, or my giggling daughter while I curled her hair for the first time tonight, or the glorious sunrise over the Smoky Mountains yesterday, or the hot, steaming coffee I drank as I lay in bed this morning.

My favorite line in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is “I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”

But, must we always notice the beauty? Must we always look on the bright side? Is it okay to just feel sad for a bit?

Because, today, people all around me are hurting, and my good friend is rapidly dying, and I’m not thinking of pretty flowers.

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