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.


28 thoughts on “Joy.

  1. ” 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.”

    I have been SO feeling this lately–needing someone that I could just love with no expectations beyond the love. And I really believe that Daisy sent Denim to us to lay on my chest during anxiety attacks and sleep on my shoulder at night.


    • I mean, it is what I’m here for! I need to maybe send out Oh Melvin tissues! There are plenty of times I close my eyes and imagine it’s Melvin at my feet, and there are equally as many wonderful times I know it’s Doug and I’m so happy he’s here.

      Daisy absolutely knows what she is doing. xoxo

  2. Thank you for the beautiful post! And for sharing the memories of your beautiful boys. I love that Doug, who is not quite the yin for your yang, may not always give you want you want but want you need (if I got that right). The middle is the best, reminds me of Robert Deniro (I think!) who said life is short but it is wide. And wide it is with these creatures who cone in and share experiences and love we couldn’t have imagined. Hugs to you and your crew! PS I always luv me some pics of google-eyed Jake, I hear Barry White, Mr T, and a hint of Snookie all rolled up into one!

    • Your reference to Barry White, Mr. T and Snooki…made my heart so happy! Thank you for that! I love that Bob D. Quote. Also, in terms of Doug, the early days with Melvin were just as crazy as the beginning time with Doug. He’s in good company, and indeed, everything I need. ❤️

  3. “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.”

    That last bit says it all and it is a timely reminder for me, I’m tempted to turn into a motivational poster for my wall. Thank you 🙂

    Curious to know whether Doug leapt off the top stair once you took the photo, his expression makes me wonder if he was preparing for launch. Love all those beautiful boys xxx

  4. This is just what I needed and didn’t know I needed? My previous dog was my Soul Dog and my current dog is not. But I Love him nonetheless and I LOVE to take pictures of Wallie (current) in spots that I took pictures of Hennessy (Soul) and put them next to each other in one picture with Photo Grid. It’s the best. Training yourself to look for the joy is a process. Thanks for this.

  5. Beautiful! Thank you for a reminder to keep focused on the joy – I try but sometimes get bogged down in the crazy tangle of family responsibilities. We lost Rusty in August to cancer at age 4. He was filled with 100 pounds of zooming Rottie joy every minute of his life. He was so in tune with us and so smart – there will probably never be such a close bond again. We love our Rosie girl dearly but it is just not the same as my boy. I kept trying to focus on the joy and hold him close in my heart. Not long after he passed a friend of mine started posting pics of a scrawny little pup she was fostering. When I saw the first one I felt a jolt. Every one I felt it again. Soon I came to believe somehow Rusty was bonking me with that big old head telling me to find the joy and give it to another special boy. After a few weeks I knew that Jake should be with us. He is also smart and goofy and filled with energy and joy, he acts so much like Rusty in some of the things he does that it is like Rusty is teaching him. But he is also so special in his own way and brings his own magic and joy!! He is now a strapping 75 pound 9 month old pup, making his own place in my heart as our bond grows deeper each day. He is helping me find my way again to seeing joy in each moment even the tough ones.

    • I just love this. Joy is there, we just have to be open to seeing it. I also believe that love lives on. My Melvin love is meant to be shared. It was the same love that Jake got and my Melvin and Jake love is now helping Doug to blossom.

      Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a Reply