J and I had a lovely Memorial Day weekend. In fact, as I watched my brother light sparklers at Grandpop's house on Sunday at dusk, my heart swelled. I watched all the kids in the front yard and thought: One day they'll remember these picnics fondly as the best days of their lives. It was a scene you'd recognize from a movie montage, with "What a wonderful world" playing in the background as the children scrambled around, laughing and playing.
And then, I was brought promptly back to reality.
Lord, I wish I could write it here. But it's personal stuff. Suffice it to say that a typical bbq broke off into a much-needed extended family therapy session, complete with tears and truth-telling, and "I love yous" had by all. And for all of the pain that was discussed, it was a very hopeful conversation. We said things the things you don't talk about; the unpleasantness that is typically swept under the proverbial rug. It was really very liberating, and I hope the conversation affected the others so profoundly.
And if I haven't said it here before, I'll say it now. Happiness? Is hard work. You can't sit on your ass all of your days, waiting for it to find you. As if you spend all of your life in misery - moaning about your job, your family, your friends, and Mondays - and suddenly Senor Happiness drops by your home unexpectedly, and you're all: Finally! Man - it's about fucking time you showed up!
I have been unhappy. I have been through pain. Sometimes, I wonder if I am able to remain optimistic because I haven't quite gone through enough pain yet; and then I begin to worry about impending doom, and then I say Shut up, brain! You mustn't worry about the things you can't control. And that actually works. Mostly.
I am so very grateful for the life that I have. Possibly I am obtuse. Most days, I feel lucky and blessed. And this is a very bold statement, but I think you should to. Even if you're not happy, I say, pretend you are. Then do the thing(s) that will make you happy. Then eventually, you will be happy. The end. Don't forget to tip your waitress.
J and I got home on Sunday night and, as I absently watched Hitch on TNT, I couldn't stop thinking about the important conversation I had had earlier. I wondered what I could do to help; how could I be supportive? I started to feel awful before I realized that I cannot take all of this on. It's not mine. I can help; but I can't obsess.
Happiness is a choice. For some, I believe other barriers (chemical, emotional, trauma) make that choice much more difficult. For me, I wake up most days with the steely intent to enjoy my life. To be nice to others. To be grateful for all the wonderful things. To love my husband and family and friends.
Some days, I suck at all of those things. So I wake up the next day and try again. It's simple to me, and I hope you see it Secret Person(s) That I Am Speaking of Incredibly Vaguely Whom I Love Unconditionally, or SPTIASOIVWILU.
Always here for you.
In other news that is incredibly humbling, J and I went to visit his Nana in her new home, a "nursing and rehabilitation center". Nana is 91 years old and remaining strong. She can still speak, though it's difficult for her, and J's mom worries that she is in pain. Dyke (I am sure he hasn't heard that one before), J's pop-pop and Nana's husband of 68 years, sits dutifully by her side each day, holding her hand and keeping her comfortable.
Her neighbor, the incorrigible Victor, sits in the hall with a towel wrapped around his head. He moans, "Oh God! Oh God!" repeatedly. He snaps at young children and nurses who walk by: "What have you got to EAT! I'm hungry!" As J and I sat visiting with Nana on Saturday, he finally wheeled himself to the doorway, smiled and waved to me.
"Hi," he said kindly. "Say, you got anything to eat in there?"
Humble and grateful. I'm just sayin'.