Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thinkback Tuesday: Not So Random Joy

For the last four months (give or take a couple of weeks), joy to me has been like those random beams of sunshine that break through on an overcast day, suddenly highlighting a mountain peak or warming your face for a moment before disappearing yet again.

After what had been a typical week with as many ups and downs as a long rollercoaster ride, my weekend was -- despite my husband's work schedule and still broken arm and the less than ideal weather -- a blessing.

Even though the first thing I did Sunday morning was cry and pray for God's protection for the rest of my battered family, even though my husband and I were the only ones from the family to make it to church because the baby was possibly coming down with something and there were some nursery issues that interrupted my morning, even though Saturday was wet and cold and I couldn't persuade the brush pile in the edge of the woods to catch fire, even though I didn't get in bed until later than I should have on Sunday night, the weekend was what I needed and far more than a random spot of joy. It was like two warm, sunny days splashed down into the middle of a long dreary spell.

Saturday morning, despite the rain, fog and chill, I spent several hours with a friend lingering over breakfast at Cracker Barrel and talking about everything except what we had thought we'd talk about -- our grief over the loss of my son and her mother, how we were coping, how we were moving forward again. Our losses were within a few weeks of one another and we had not been together since she said goodbye to her mom, but we had other things to talk about this weekend.

No, we weren't avoiding the topic so much as we were talking about life and what and how we are doing. We talked about children and marriages and jobs and dogs and tickets and the ups and downs of all of those things. We talked about things we can do together when winter finally relinquishes her hold in the weather. We ate too much and drank a lot of coffee and laughed and made her daughter wonder if we were ever going home. It was wonderful.

Saturday night my husband and I went to a political gathering -- something I'm not sure I've done since I was a reporter, so roll the calendar back about five years. But they weren't just people from the political party I affiliate with, they were people that I had worked around and called on and harassed for years. They were people I'd taken recreational classes at the community college with. They were friends that I've laughed with and shared a lot of conversations with and more recently some of the people I've cried with. There were people there who have been on the same grief journey and people who I know are still afraid of how their child's life is going. We ate and talked and laughed and listened to the obligatory political speeches from people we really know and like and want to see succeed, regardless of politics.

Then, in what could hardly be considered a date night activity, my long suffering husband and I went grocery shopping at Walmart, largely because we don't have a lot of options but I'm totally considering the drive to Cosco worth it after going last weekend. We got the necessities of life for another week of hectic schedules, too much coffee and three little people. Despite getting rained on, we followed that by taking time out for frozen yogurt at a Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt shop that's been open for ages, but where we'd never been. We took time to reconnect in ways that we haven't often enough with everything that is going on in our lives between grief and broken bones and hectic, very different, daily schedules.

Sunday we slept past 7 a.m. (a rare treat), then went to church while at the same time making plans for lunch and a movie with more friends. So church was followed by Chinese food and then "God's Not Dead," which, despite what any critic may say, was wonderful. It reminded me how some people have to struggle for their faith, made me weep and uplifted me. The theater had not opened the movie last week, reportedly telling a caller that they didn't expect enough of an audience of it -- I think it was close to a sold out show at 2 p.m. on a Sunday. We came home to a week's worth of DVR shows and dinner ready in the slow cooker when we were ready for it.

Yesterday the tail end of March slipped away on warm beams of sunshine and I walked all my dogs. My mom came for an unexpected and totally welcome visit. She stayed through lunch and coffee and we sat on the front porch and talked in the warm sunshine. There was a window open in the bedroom all night bringing us fresh air and sweet dreams.

None of those things that still make my heart glad are great or outstanding. I didn't go on vacation, or win the lottery, or do anything even remotely spectacular. It was just good days and before I lost my son, odds are I wouldn't have taken the time to appreciate them for that. I would have still be wanting that something extra that we tend to think turns the ordinary into something worth celebrating.

Oftentimes it takes the things that stop us in our tracks, the diagnosis we don't want to hear, the sudden end of the relationship, the death of someone we were not prepared to lose, to change that.

I'm sorry that for so much of my life the simple joy of living and being loved, of having a life that brought me peace and satisfaction if not fame and fortune, was not as appreciated as it should have been and I'm glad that has changed although I still grieve what wrought that change. I'm not yet so hopeful as to believe I've turned some magical corner in my grief, but I'm glad for a few days of sunshine in my soul after the storm that has raged.

So keep looking for the joy in life and be prepared to be humbled if you realize it's been all around you the whole time.

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