Monday, August 6, 2012

The State of Happiness

Today is Jerry's birthday. He would have been 63. He could have officially retired. He had so looked forward to it. But at 59 he died. I kept breathing.

Since 2009 I've been through a series of physical, emotional, and mental upheavals that defy description but if you truly want to torture yourself, it's all here in the blog. I lived in a nightmare hell the first year and can't remember huge amounts of time from that year. The second year, I woke up and realized it wasn't a a nightmare at all, it was just hell. The third year I though I was going to be able to crawl out and maybe, just maybe I'd be able to live among other living beings only to fall back into the pit. I am approaching the 4th anniversary and I've begun to question if life after death is even possible. Not my death. His. Is it even possible to push back the darkness and be, if not happy, content?

I've sought to involve myself with people and things and stay busy but honestly, I live in a vacuum where the only time I see or hear from most people in a 50 mile radius is when someone else has a need. Never when I have one. I try to be obliging but the results is I end up running short of energy, time, money, and reciprocation of such. Nearly 4 years later, I still am sitting in my house, alone, in silence and listening to echos. I have no more outside contact that I did the day the last person left after the funeral and the last calls came in. It shocked me to my core then. I don't shock so easily now.

These days, I don't actually think it is possible to be happy.  The people I know personally are miserable. The problem, as near as I can figure, is our concept of happiness is distorted. People seem to think happiness is doing something we enjoy, all the time. Happiness is being in a crowded room with lots of people we like and who like us and having fun, all the time.  Happiness is having the money to buy all we want, all the time.  Happiness is having security, jobs, friends, things. Happiness is stuff. All the time.

You think, when you don't have things, that getting them will fix it. You'll be happy for sure then. I'll get a new house, go to a new school, a new church, move to a new town, meet new people, get a new job. Right. It won't work.

I've got stuff. I'm not happy.

Let me tell you what unhappiness is and maybe that will explain it better. Living without the person who knew everything about me, right down to my birthmark is the most difficult thing I've ever been forced to do. I once said it felt as if I'd had my arm cut off. I was wrong. It is more like having a leg removed at the hip. And they don't sell a prosthetic for it. Someone said "Think about the good times." I don't dare. I can't reclaim them. I can't relive them. And I can't make new ones. I shatter in a billion tiny pieces and have to pick them up. They are made of obsidian glass and flay me.

In all the 35 years of marriage, I distinctly remember being terribly unhappy on many occasions, times when he displeased me and when I displeased him. Of course, we got past them but there were some times that neither of us really got over. We were human after all. We weren't happy all the time and as he grew sicker, we both grew less so. For years, I was so stubborn and demanding. He seldom said no to me and I was cared for and cherished. Right up to the night he dropped dead.

But you know something, right now, this very minute, I would do everything he asked me if he'd just come home and complain about something. I'd be happy! I'd be ecstatic if he stepped into the room and griped about something trivial. If he left the towel wadded on the seat of the toilet, his shorts in the floor, his shoes in the middle of the living room. I would be overjoyed. If he left dirty dishes on the counter.... I'd wash them with a smile. He had a hard time keeping a job the last few years and I didn't know why. He was sick. But today, if he was unemployed and broke and simply wanted to complain about it, I would so listen and put my arms around him and say, "I'm here. We're in this together. It looks bad but we have one another."

The truth is that there is no feeling like being loved, cared for, and made to feel you are the Queen of the Universe or the King. Realistically, it isn't always like that. But knowing it is always there, why, you can live in a hovel and never notice. I've lived in a few! There is nothing that can take the place of looking across the room when you're worried and having someone smile at you. Or lying in the dark staring at the ceiling and having someone squeeze your hand. They don't have to speak. You just know that they just sent you a message. I'm here. We're in this together. It looks bad but we have one another.

Nothing else in the world feels like that.

Jerry, I'd be happy to see you're face smile across the room.

1 comment:

  1. After reading this, how could anyone not understand--at least a little?