It was time to light candles to usher in Shabbat. As I stood there with my face covered, tiny tears gathering in the corners of my eyes, I said a silent prayer: “Dear G‑d, I know you’re out there. Please give my husband a refuah sheleimahI thought about the unfairness of it all [complete recovery], and please give me the strength to deal with whatever comes our way.”

I stood there a moment longer than usual, my heart pounding in my chest, while once again I thought about the unfairness of it all. Here I was, lighting the Shabbat candles in the comfort of my home, surrounded by family and all things reassuring and familiar, while my husband was lying in a sterile hospital room, alone and lonely.

Slowly, I took a breath and removed my hands from my face. The two candles in front of me flickered. I watched as one flame shot up, striving towards the heavens, before slowly collapsing into a puddle of wax. The flame, though small, held on and continued burning. The other candle stood straight and tall, its flame never wavering.

My husband hadn’t been in the hospital for an exceptionally long time, nor was the reason for his stay especially serious. But when someone you love is suffering, even if it’s for a short period of time, it takes its toll. And Shabbat is when you feel it the most.

I looked again at the candles in front of me. Which candle represented me and where I was at, and which represented my husband? Was I the flame struggling to hold on to the wick, or was I the one trying to soldier on so my husband couldn’t see my pain, and so I could help drag him out of his?

This thought lingered with me through Shabbat dinner. Later that night, I went back to check on my candles. I watched as the flame of the candle that had been standing tall and proud diminished and died out. Surprisingly, the flame that was drowning in a pile of wax was still burning away—a tiny flame refusing to let go.

As I watched the flames, I reflected on the mysticism of candle, wick and flame. How does one illuminate a dark room? It takes only one candle. And it takes only one ray of hope and positivity, one spark of light, one mitzvah, to brighten up a situation.

Like a soul, flames are always yearning, striving, reaching towards higher places. It doesn’t matter how much the candle has burned; its flame will always be struggling to hold on to the wick and yet reach for the heavens. But if, for some reason, the flame does burn out, another light can bring the flame back to life. If your flame has burned out, don’t be afraid to seek out help from someone whose flame is burning stronger. If their faith is burning brighter than yours, let them help you rekindle your own.

So which candle did I represent? Perhaps both. I was the one soldiering on, telling myself—and my husband—It will be okay; we’ll get through this. But I was also the one drowning in a puddle of despair—When will this end? How will we get through it?

The answer, I knew, lay in the candlesIt’s okay to feel conflicting emotions themselves. It was okay to feel conflicting emotions at the same time. It was okay to feel like the brave one sometimes and the one who was collapsing other times. It was okay to feel vulnerable and lost and confused. It was all okay, because these things pass. They always will.

Next Shabbat will come and I’ll be lighting candles again, hopefully with my husband by my side. The candles will continue to remind me that things wax and wane, and it’s all just a part of life. And as I watch the candles flicker, I’ll try to be grateful for the life I was given, for the soul that keeps me going, sometimes wavering, sometimes strong, but always burning steadily.