Today in this the northern hemisphere is the shortest day, in terms of light. The darkest day of the year. Tomorrow will be lighter, and it will, daily, continue to get lighter and lighter, warmer and warmer, for six whole months. At first it won't feel any ligher, and it may be even colder tomorrow, but we will have the sun for a little longer. And so it will go. By February it will be noticeable, and I'll start saying things like: "blimey, it's still light and it's six o'clock!" I love February for that.
One of the benefits of being this age is experience: I know the light will return because it has done so for all of my (fifty) years. Dark may insinuate it's way into my life until it becomes a wall I can't get through or over, but all I need do is look back at all the other walls I have made it past, and not lose hope. It's not always easy to hang on to hope – I often need to manufacture it, and I guess that's one of the reasons we have Christmas: it gives us something to look forward to in the gloom – but it is possible, with a little help. I've just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and it was exactly the illumination I needed.
I have never experienced anything as cold and dark as the inhabitants of Guernsey did during WW2. I've never suffered long term starvation, or feared for my life, once, let alone daily for five years. And I never had to make a decision about whether to send my child away for his own safety, and then having decided to do so (wisely in hindsight) lost contact with him (and the whole of the outside world) for five years. How must it have felt to not know how one's child is faring, if s/he is alive or dead, healthy or sick? Every day must have felt interminable and barely tenable. My reading was halted at that part by, not just tears, convulsions. I had to take several deep breaths before I could continue. Yet those people, mothers, fathers, grandparents, kept going and, mostly, survived; their children came home, and light returned. I felt much better after reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
We have reached the bottom of the wintry abyss and all we have to do is hang on to hope in order to rise back up to the top. For this I think I'm going to need a lot of books, so if anyone has any light infusing recommendations I'd be very grateful.