Happiness Is . . .

My amazing kids, taken by "Hunny Bee Photograpy": Amy Renz
My amazing kids, taken by “Hunny Bee Photograpy”: Amy Renz

The old Charlie Brown line finishes my headline with “finding a pencil, winning at baseball, telling the time!” 

For us, happiness is living.  I don’t mean “oh my God, those people know how to live!”  No, it’s life.  For a while, quite awhile for me, we existed.  Simply existing is a lot different than living.  Many of us may be doing it and have no idea that it’s happening, and I am sorry if that is the case for you.  I wasn’t, not four years ago.  Then two years ago I was.

Today, though, I’m alive.

So are those four kids in my household.

After losing my wife, Andrea, to pneumonia very quickly in 2011, I was truly adrift.  I was still tied to the shore by the love of a cache of really good people.  Without them I don’t know that things would have ended up this way.

But we’ve also done a lot of this ourselves.  Those four kids face a lot and I make no bones about the fact that I have lost in a completely different way than they have.  I lost a spouse, wife, best friend, whatever you want to say about it.  On top of that, I had to push myself to heal (with the prodding of some loving family) in order to be a stable influence for the kids.

But still, I can be empathetic but not totally understand what they’ve lost.  They don’t have their Mom.  I get that.  Sometimes, when I am least expecting it, my kids will have moments that are problems they’d talk only with their Mom about.  Since I’m not her, they don’t know who to talk to about their problem.  They try to talk to me, and most the time it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.

We’ve all faced this, the problem of what do you do when you’ve lost that person?  I started writing here because I’d get to 9 or 10 at night and realize that I was alone, quiet, and it was hard to face.  Then it wasn’t.

That’s what changed.  It wasn’t.

It’s hard to comprehend, I’m sure, that anyone can be happy after suffering tragic events.  I certainly didn’t make a conscious effort to be happy, we just became joyous.

So happiness is going to the park.  It’s walking in the morning and having my son appear next to me asking to go along.  It’s taking a spur-of-the-moment trip on a whim.  It’s not moving on, it’s having moved one without the memories weighing you down.  That’s where things have changed.

I loved my wife, Andrea.  I still love her.  That won’t change.  I don’t know that it’s easy to understand.  The wound scars over.  It may not totally heal.  That doesn’t mean we can’t live, though.  We’re not bleeding internally, we’re living with the bullet or the tip of the arrow in our hearts.  Move the wrong way, experience the wrong thing, and that piece of cold hardened steel rubs the wrong thing and you feel the twinge.  But where it used to hurt like hell, now you reminisce about what put the arrow there in the first place.  You remember the times, good and bad.

Then you walk your own path again, realizing that it’s what you’ve been doing all along, you just didn’t know it.

When people hear that I’ve lost my wife they start to opine on the grief and I usually interrupt.  “It’s okay,” I say.  “We’re doing fine.”

We’re doing fine, too, it’s not a lie.

In fact . . . we’re happy.

Hey, look . . . I found a pencil today!

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