Today, the train came just as I was approaching the platform; the sun peaked through a sky that’s been a cold, wintery grey for days; and I had dinner with a friend. None of these events was especially out of the ordinary and, in fact, could easily be overlooked or quickly forgotten as platitudes. But each, in its own way, brought me a fleeting sense of pleasure and good fortune—I wasn’t going to be late to work, the snow might melt, I enjoyed a tasty meal in good company. These are little things, but the memory of Darah reminds me that they are hugely significant.
Before Darah passed away, she created handmade gifts for her close friends and family. She decorated small jars and filled them with blank slips of paper on which recipients were instructed to “write about wonderful experiences and positive thoughts.” The musings were to be stored in the cheerfully embellished jars and referred to “when you need to be reminded of the beauty of life.” My sister, Madeline, one of Darah’s best friends, received a jar, and I see it as a metaphor for Darah and the way she lived her too-short life. Like Madeline’s jar, Darah quietly observed, collected, and reflected on the good things in life—things that, in the face of tremendous physical and emotional adversity, allowed her to remain admirably and unfalteringly stoic.
I grew up with Darah. When she died last December, she left me with countless warm memories of the past. Her biggest legacy, however, is a model for living in the present and future. Darah made it look effortless to maintain a positive outlook. It’s not. But by reflecting on and marinating in pleasant everyday minutiae, as Darah’s parting gift encouraged her loved ones to do, life’s challenges become increasingly tolerable and even surmountable. And so, as time carries on in her absence, I work to adopt an appreciation for the little good things, and a part of Darah stays alive with me.
Written by: Sarah