If you’ve ever given up sweets for a while, you know how satisfying three M & M’s or a single Hershey’s Kiss can be. Or maybe you’ve stopped drinking pop, and when you finally try one again, a few swallows are all you need to elicit an “Ahhhhh” and a shiver. This is my relationship with joy right now. The moments are small, but oh, do they feel good.
I’d been wondering if I’d ever feel anything positive again. For 18 months*, I’d been in neutral, felt numb, angry, bitter, sarcastic, pessimistic. Smiling and laughing had often been forced; I had been pretending to be normal, going through the motions. But, lately, I’ve spent nearly every afternoon in my backyard playing with my dogs, who don’t understand pretending, and I’ve found myself laughing out loud at their antics. A real laugh!
Those small moments are pure joy. And, let me tell you, it feels amazing.
I still miss Todd. I still have his slippers in my bedroom closet, and at some point in every day, I recall the night he died.
But, joy has started slipping in through the cracks of my broken heart.
In addition to being able to laugh again, I’ve begun to embrace his presence in me instead of only grieving his absence. For instance, instead of grieving the idea that I will never hear him say “tacos” again, I can say the word aloud, imitating his pronunciation, with a smile in my kitchen as I warm up tortillas.
I can smile again, I can laugh again, and that, dear friend, is a miracle.
*I wrote this in early summer 2019. It’s sort of like documenting a child’s first steps; laughing at my dogs was my first real laugh since Todd died. Amazing!