Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Some Weeks, the Joy is Hard to Recognize

I would say this has been a hard week, looking back, even though I might not be able to put a finger on why.

I think it is the sense of grief that has hung around several of my friends, new and old, who within a few days timespan of one another marked the anniversary of their child's death. My Facebook news feed contained a trickle of pain that some days felt more like Niagara Falls. All those pictures of our children we'll never hold again in this world. Gone 11 years, gone one year, gone a month; dead in vehicle accidents, drug overdoses and drownings; snatched from our lives in a heartbeat that wasn't followed by another while we were going about the business of living.

Most of the young people I never knew; two of the mothers I've never met face-to-face, but their pain resonates in my heart each day and I knew the grief that only we can understand and share. It's been six months since I heard my son's voice. Sunday will mark a six-month anniversary for me and although I hadn't thought to give it weight, the weight of other's pain has added to my own. And for the first time the actual date, the 15th, will also be the same as it was in December.

So it has been challenging to think about trying to find random joy this week, which meant I needed to do it even more than on a week when the list could be endless.

Babies, dogs and reptiles still delivered the odd smile, even if sometimes I had to brush away an unshed tear to do so.

1. Catching a five-foot blacksnake in my hen house. Literally. I wish I'd caught his companion and I'm glad that four of the five snakes I've encountered this week (yes, it really has been that kind of week) were black snakes. There's nothing to freak your friends out on Facebook like posting a picture of a snake, in your hand, and wrapped around your wrist. Not only that, but I think I could be solving the egg mystery one snake at a time. I have caught two blacksnakes in the coop this week (the other was much smaller) and my husband killed a copperhead in the kennel one night. I've seen two more black snakes. Apparently the wive's tale about them keeping copperheads away isn't true. My yard isn't that big.

2. Another tiny turtle. This one was even tinier and so shy it would not stick its head out to entertain the baby, but E2 was delighted by it all the same. Since it was so near my home, she had the honor of taking to the garden to release it.

3. Gold Medal Day. For little gymnasts, it is the equivalent of a piano recital. They get to put on their moves in front of friends and family and after toting E1 and E2 to classes, and E3 along for the ride since the oldest was 2 years old, I'm an old pro at the festivities. So was E1. My middle baby, who is never daunted by anything and who has been doing class without help for a couple of weeks, was overwhelmed by the number of people and needed me to come with her. While I was looking forward to being part of the audience for a change, I was glad to be the one she called.

4. A baby sleeping in my arms through Sunday school class. Yes, she was hot, and heavy after a while, but it was such a sweet burden to hold E3 when she dozed off without her pacifier or blanket. Plus, she awoke in a much better mood.

5. Pedro. I know, you're probably tired of hearing about Pedro, but in the wake of what seemed like a nervous breakdown last week, he's suddenly OK. With everything. Including the big male dogs that would previously have given him a cause to be defensive. I'm still testing the water, but he was actually playing wild games with another male that he wasn't four times as big as. Now all I have to do is find him a good home, but he's sure ready to go and after so many months of work I'm so happy to see the dog that has emerged from the tormented canine that arrived last October.

6. The pool. Growing up I would never have dreamed I'd have a pool, mainly because no one had pools except country clubs and the indoor one at the Y. I don't swim well, probably for the above reasons, but I love my pool. It is a temporary, above ground one, but it's got salt water, and I can fall into it after mowing or anything else and be so refreshed and immediately cooled. Not only that, but it's a wonderful place to contain and entertain the girls on a hot day and it's finally big enough, after two summers in one of the easy set models, for floats and multiple adults and children.

7. A quart of red paint for my front door, well crimson paint actually. I've always wanted to paint the front door red. It's supposed to be good feng shui to have a red front door and I'm about to have one, except I forgot to buy a paint brush. Still, I have the paint and the plan, and it's good to have plans.

So it took some dredging, but I came up with seven. I figure one for each day of the week and I can pull them forth and polish them off if this coming week is as hard as last week.

I keep reminding myself that happiness isn't a destination, it's what happens along the way and I've got to work to have it each day because I'm never going to get there. It has to be within me as I go.

Do the same, whatever hard battles you're fighting. Recognize the joy because you can bet you won't miss the pain when it comes. Try to see happy when it happens.


  1. I met so many grieving parents at the 4th annual Afterlife Awareness Conference last week..and i'm not sure there is anything more powerful than parents' grief and attempts to make sense of how this happened (not in the natural order of things) . I've been blogging about the sessions and thoughts there for a few days and plan to continue to do so. If it would help them, feel free to send them to my site.

  2. I hope this week is one filled with joy - and less snakes! for you. I am so sorry for your sadness and loss of your son.

    1. It's 10 days later and I've not seen a snake in days! Knock on wood. Not only that, but I collected almost a dozen eggs one day. Maybe I don't need a new flock of hens either.