Precious and Precarious


"Emotions travel together – if we reject grief, we lose joy...”

- Michael Meade -


For Joye


First the title popped into my head. Then I found the photo of the whimsical dandelion, an embroidered pillow made by a friend. The quote jumped out from a messy page of others’ wisdom. And now I sit down on this hot, howling windy day and write to you.


Our sister-in-law Joye has been in ICU since a week ago Friday, rendered unconscious by lithium toxicity. The doctors and her husband and the family are staying on the side of hope.


Many a time I have walked into her home jittery and discombobulated and come away soothed and full of laughter. As tears well up or subside, depending on the news from this test or that doctor, in my heart and mind she remains the epitome of love and positivity even as I have glimpsed through our past conversations the pain and limitations (and now this consequence) that come from living half a century with bipolar disorder.


On our knees in a flood of intense, often disabling emotions, some kindness is drawn to our suffering. I always marvel at these magnetized moments of care and connection—a text or phone call is answered with a “Yes, come on over,” or someone’s smile lifts your downcast gaze.


Yes. Hold it all as No shouts, and Yes prays. Live in each swaying minute of life, like Joye. Precious and living in a precarious world, she is the only person I know who sends out handwritten cards just because she wants to say I love you. I see you. I am you.


Embroidery and photograph by Sharon Anderson


NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE