“Black; darkness. It’s the absence of light. You cannot see darkness. It cannot exist with light. It cannot be explained. Darkness only comes when everything else has gone. Darkness is nothing… then darkness is everything.”

It was a concept that always intrigued me. At Lock Haven Catholic Middle School we had art courses that we took, painting and such, and one of my teachers was discussing colors and how you blend them together to paint other colors. Red and yellow combine to make orange, and so forth. My teacher set up her canvas at the front of the classroom. It was just a blank white sheet and told us that’s where you begin, with white; the absence of color. She swirled colors together in circles all over the canvas, demonstrating how to blend them. Then in the center, she blended together all the colors she had and that circle got darker and darker until it was black. Black, she said, was the combination of all the colors.

But what I find interesting is that in the natural world, as I learned later on in my studies, it’s the opposite. The white light that we see is actually all of the colors of light combined in the visible spectrum at equal intensity. And darkness is the total absence of light, or the total absence of all color, appearing black to our eyes. These concepts fascinate me. I’ve always been a very pensive person, and oftentimes I’d find myself absorbed in these simple facts, contemplating how they fit together.

Depression is associated with black. When Father passed away, Mother became very depressed as my parents were always close to one another and she’d lost her greatest friend. She was sad and gloomy, and she told me, “My world just looks dark, Ellie. It’s like everything is hiding under a black shadow. I miss him, dearly.”

I held Mother that day, and we cried together. When I was alone later, I remember thinking again to the concepts of black and white, of darkness and light. People who are unhappy identify with darkness, but what does that mean? Maybe they see darkness because they see no light, no optimism or hope. Or perhaps they see darkness because they are seeing black. They could be seeing all the colors and all the things around them swirling and blending together and they don’t know what to make of it.

In Mother’s case, I thought that both ideas could be true. She saw no hope because Father had moved on to Heaven and he certainly wasn’t coming back. She understood that it was his time to be with the Good Lord above us, we both did. We did not resent the Lord for taking Father. But once people are in Heaven, they cannot come back and we won’t see them again until we meet them there. But I also thought, Mother may be seeing that black shadow as all her memories with Father all came together. She said everything was hiding under it, and perhaps that was because they shared such a lengthy past together and now in the present, without him, she didn’t quite know how to move on yet.

I still don’t have the answers. I don’t believe any of us do. I’m not sure if other people think about things this way; if people wonder like this. But I always have.

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