I get asked a lot about choosing joy. How I choose it over grief, or anger, or uncertainty. The answer to that is, it is not always easy, but it has become who I am.
I have human moments. I start crying in the car for no reason (ok, fine, when the boys send me songs) and I have to pull over for other’s safety. I get sad and even mad that Melvin and Jake are not here anymore. Work stresses me out. People annoy me. Sometimes, it seems like the day/week is against me.
Choosing joy is not always a done deal. Eventually though, Melvin pops into my mind and love and joy rush over me and well… I have no option but to do as he taught me.
- Jake and Melvin are not here anymore. But they were here. And were here is way more incredible than never here. And I feel them and I see them in all the beautiful things.
- My heartbeat, is joy.
- Doug does things that frustrate me. He is absolutely not the yin to my yang. He sometimes manages to push all my buttons, at once. But the moment I feel the frustration creeping in, I start laughing. Because Doug is, quite literally, powered by joy. He was delivered to my life when I prayed to still be a joy seeker after Jake died. I said the words please help me to continue on this joy journey and the universe said: here you go. Joy powers this one, whenever you are running low on joy, just look at him.
- Joy still lives here.
- Sometimes the wrong memories get served up. A moment of frustration with Jake, me wondering if Melvin’s cancer could have been cured had we found out earlier. A day after Melvin died when I was broken and not the best mom for Jake. Life sometimes tries to come at me from all the wrong directions. I do not entertain any of those moments. I did my best, I refuse to be torn down, not after all we’ve been through. So when those moments try to sneak in, I say nope. I go towards the joy. I go towards the moments that mattered, the moments that we won.
- Joy owns my past.
- Work stresses me out. Some days I feel like I’m drowning. But there is never a moment that joy doesn’t remind me that this job, that I happen to LOVE, this job has allowed me to give the boys everything they have ever needed. When cancer struck, I didn’t have to worry about whether I could give them the best care possible.
- Joy is always just around the corner.
Let’s be honest folks, joy does not win (right away) every time. That would be odd and impossible. Sometimes, the grief is way stronger than the joy. Sometimes, the transition from angry to joy filled takes a few days. I choose joy when I can and I accept that some days it’s going to be harder than other days.
I just don’t see myself ever giving up on the chase. Joy for me, translates a lot of the time, to thankfulness. I have yet to arrive at a day where I am not thankful for something.
This joy journey all started with Melvin. From day one, Melvin dragged me, forward. I kicked and screamed and he just kept dragging me. One day he stopped for a break, and I had a moment of reflection and I looked back and realized, he’d gotten me through. Where I might have been happier to linger in a sad or difficult situation, he had shown me how to persevere. He changed me. From that point on, every time I looked at him, I felt joy wash over me and I knew with all that I was, that he and I were meant to continue chasing that emotion. He was the original joy for me. The joy catalyst. The one creature in this life that absolutely, every time, no matter what – moved forward with joy in his heart.
I’m just another way that his love lives on. Even saying those words, is joy to me.
We are coming up on the third anniversary of his death. I get haunted by flashbacks of our life three years ago. But our life is not defined by our end, in fact I’d argue, the end is separate. The end will always come, but the middle, the middle is all ours. What we make of the middle, is what defines who we are. We don’t get to choose our beginning or our end, but we can own the shit out of the time in-between.
Our middle, is joy.