The list is not exhaustive as the things that make me happy fluctuate. Not just by the day but from year to year.
Life changes and so do we. Over the past 30 years of my life, I have cried enough tears to fill an ocean. The winter of my first year away at college, my Nana (my dad’s mom) Crossed Over the Rainbow Bridge and less than two months later, my Pop-Pop (my mom’s dad) did, too. I made a series of regrettable decisions about two or three years later that led to nine nightmarish years in total, during which my dad was sent across the Rainbow Bridge (car accident), my son was born a preemie and spent a month in the hospital, and his dad (the first husband) sent himself (by way of an overabundance of anger that most likely caused the massive heart attack) across the Rainbow Bridge. A ray of sun came soon thereafter when I met Christopher and we walked Life’s Path for 16 years. Health changes for him, emotional changes for my son, job changes for me and the tears, oh! the tears. Like the happy of my youth that I packed away, I did the same with the tears and just … pressed … on.
Like pressing flowers.
My mom and I used to do that when I was a child. I would find flowers in my Nana’s rose garden and my mom and I would press them in a book. They remained full of color and even kept their scent (Nana’s roses were magical).
For a long time, I packed away my happy. I had buried it so deep it took Christopher’s deep spade of patient love to dig it up.
The good thing is that once it came to the surface I was able to nurture it by doing things that helped it grow.
The whole set of experiences taught me how to pack up the tears as well.
After Christopher Crossed Over, I unpacked the tears and cried in spurts. I was sad that he was gone, that the person with whom I entrusted my late-night questions, wild imaginations, and crazy plans was not here anymore. I cried in relief because I knew he wasn’t hurting anymore, that no doctors would ever stick him with needles and that there would be no more scary hospital visits.
People who have not had such experiences don’t understand what it means to find happy afterward.
But it happens.
It has to.
Confidants and the associated secrets we share.
Cooking and seeing the results enjoyed.
Sunrises and sunsets.
Two dogs and a cat.
Writing stories and publishing them.
Those things still and always exist. They can’t so easily be pressed in a book and packed away.
And shouldn’t be.
Eventually, the sackcloth and ashes must be put away and hope for better is put on. Sure, there are times for tears; I saw a message on social media a couple days ago about a former work colleague who, it seems, crossed the Rainbow Bridge suddenly and unexpectedly. The shine of my heart dimmed for her and her family and in that same heart, I hugged my loved ones just a little closer.
I then went to find some happy in my day. Because we have to, don’t we?
You’ll never feel happy … until you try …