Sunday, February 5, 2012

Happiness

When Jonah died I knew that I would never feel happy again.  How could I, when he was the source of so much joy and love.  How could I when part of my heart was gone forever?  Shortly after Jonah left us, Jordan's former bishop came to visit us.  This kind man lost two of his children in their infancy.  I knew he understood the pain and hopelessness that enveloped us.  He simply spoke about his own grief, and of the process.  We shared stories about Jonah to make sure he knew how much we loved him.  We wanted him to know the depth of our loss.  Of course he knew and understood.  He listened and then he counseled us.  He promised us that there would be a time when we would feel happy again. He said we would be tempted to squash that feeling, and encouraged us not to deny ourselves happiness.  He said "Do not feel guilty for forgetting your grief.  Forgetting grief is different than forgetting someone that you love."  Other kind people promised us future happiness, and I could not believe them.  But his life was compelling evidence to me, and I longed to believe him.

I am hesitant to tell you that I am happy now.  I don't want you to think that my grief has ended, that I don't miss Jonah, that my heart doesn't still ache.  I feel the pain of Jonah's absence in every part of my day and in every memory.  But I will tell you that on Friday I felt happy. 


Some wonderful women from my church invited me to go skiing with them.  I love to ski.  Well that is not entirely true, I love to ski on a warm sunny day when conditions are ideal.  Friday was one of those days.  The sun was healing, the air was crisp, the mountains were spectacular, and the snow wasn't frozen.  I had a moment, sitting on the chairlift, laughing with these kind women, when I realized that I was happy.  It was as if my focus shifted away from my own misery, and happiness could finally settle upon me.  I didn't expect it.  I wasn't seeking it.  But I felt light and momentarily free from my heavy burden.  I carried that lightness with me for the rest of the afternoon as I swooshed down the mountain. 

I was quite proud of my foray into happiness.  I came home and told Jordan what a great day I had.  I was bubbling with energy and then collapsed, exhausted on the couch.  In the spirit of full disclosure I will tell you that only a few hours later I was sobbing in my bed, telling Jordan how much it hurts to miss Jonah.  I found myself saying over and over, through bursts of tears, "it hurts so much." 

This is the path of grief.  I am trying not to be discouraged that pain followed my happiness home.  I am learning that happiness and pain are not mutually exclusive.  They are not enemies.  They can co-exist.  In our most joyful moments, there is often a twinge of heartache that brings sweetness to the joy.  Hopefully the opposite is true in our sorrows.  I try to hold onto those glimpses of happiness that come to me momentarily, that help to soften the pain.  I try to think about what kind of mother Jonah would want me to be, and I know that he wants me to be happy.


Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder. Henry David Thoreau



video
My Happy Boy

2 comments:

  1. Its ok to feel all of this and I think you are doing well in your own way. I have just read the blog about about the King Family and have just sat here while Kobe is having his afternoon sleep with tears streaming for the last hour reading. I can't even imagine how it must be for both of you as mums but that you are strong people who are amazing. I love Jonahs happy little giggle in the video and a memory to treasure. To oneday hear Kobe giggle properly will be so special. Love to you from New Zealand.
    Love
    Cath Uhlenberg

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  2. I am glad you had a particularly happy day. It sounds wonderful. And what great words from Jordan's former bishop. What a blessing to have other who can help through the challenges and trials of life.

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