Happy: A Quest for Life After Death

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Someone asked me the other day if I was happy.  This is a person who is well aware that my Mat died 18 months ago, so I thought that was pretty optimistic of him.  
Am I happy?  I answered him with a flat “No.”  Mat isn’t here, and he shows no signs of coming back.  I miss him every day.  Mat was my home – my place of rest – and without him I am homeless.  When I let myself think about it, I worry that I may never have a home again.  I am a single parent of two grade-school boys, with all of the responsibility, logistical challenge, and sheer exhaustion that involves.  My children don’t have a dad, and they will not even fully understand what this means for them for decades
I realized a long time ago that it is not a good idea to look too far into the future or ask large existential questions about happiness.  This can be fuel for a dive headfirst into a pit of depression.  But I do have moments of joy.
My friend Beth describes life as a salad.  If her life is a bowl of iceberg lettuce, she’s happy to find some tomatoes here and there.  These are her walks with friends, and uninterrupted stretches of writing time, and happy moments with her kids.
My salad is also made of iceberg lettuce.  It hasn’t been washed that well, so there are some gritty pieces, and it’s a little old, so there are also some slimy pieces.  But there are also some sugared walnuts, sweetened dried cranberries, and even a chunk of blue cheese here and there.  These are the times I spend reading a satisfying book with my boys, or being caught off guard by a hug from one of them, or getting them through a conflict-free bedtime routine on time
This week it was playing in the water with the boys, having a few free hours and using it to discover a book I really like, and helping Colin catch his first big fish.  We were in the Nantucket Sound on a boat with 30 or so other people, and Colin – the youngest by several years – was worried that he would be the only one not to catch a fish.  Instead, he was among the first, landing a big sea bass. 
Mat would have loved it.


Jenn Jenson said...

Good morning friend. Loving Colin's fish, and sending best wishes for a good week.

Jennifer said...

You too the words right out of my mouth. I feel homeless and I have moments of joy.

Tao1776 said...

Well said. My friend since High School lost his wife to kidney disease five years ago. I lost my wife to divorce over the last few years. Loss is a weight that we carry with us but no one sees. We had always hoped that it would be forever.