I get, I understand happy. I’m largely a happy person, always have been, I like happy. The odd thing is, at times, every now and then, occasionally, I feel a little guilty feeling happy.
As dumb as that is, it’s a real thing for me.
I remember at one point sitting somewhere, eating, talking, hanging with my children while Marty was still in the ICU at Zale Lipshy Hospital in Dallas after her first stroke. Marty was lying in her high tech hospital bed with tubes in her nose, her throat and her head while being fed food through a tube and given IV drugs to keep her asleep so she wouldn’t buck against the daily assaults on her body. Keeping someone alive can be an awesome and awful thing.
Anyway, we were sitting, talking, hanging and someone said something funny and I laughed for just a moment. I don’t remember what or who said something funny but the moment caught up with me, life seemed normal for a fleeting moment and I laughed, I found happy, and then I caught myself.
My happy seemed like a direct affront to my bride who was lying in a bed with a tenuous hold on life. How could I, if I was true, if my sadness over Marty’s aneurysm, if my fear for Marty’s life was true, how could I laugh.
I quit laughing. For longer than was smart.
The whole thing, caring for Marty, watching her suffer, watching pieces of her die was so overwhelmingly awful it pushed out virtually all emotions except for fear, anger and sadness…..and guilt for those odd times when happiness or laughter occurred. It took months, really years to get to the point where other real and better emotions such as love, gratitude and happiness could be real again. It took work, thought, self awareness, effort and most importantly adaptation to move past the self pity and angst of our situation.
I have since discovered that happiness does not require an ideal life, it does not require an easy life, it does not require perfection. Happiness simply requires effort and permission, permission from you for you to enjoy what fruits of life are there.
Man that’s high tone talk about someone who is healthy . It's because I've been married to Psychologist all of these years. Think about how hard it is to find happiness if you are the Psychologist in the bed is the stroke patient.
When I ask Marty if she is happy her first and immediate response is almost always, “No.” Not a lot of detail, not a lot of nuance, it’s just, “No.” But, give her a few beats, and on most days, almost always, she will think and then say,”Yes, some times.”
I think that’s the real truth. “No,” she says, “I shouldn’t feel happy. Life has hit me hard, life, living has taken too much of me away for me to be happy, there is no friggin way I’m going to say I’m happy and it’s pretty damn stupid of you to even ask or think I could be happy. What the hell is wrong with your pee brain?” That’s what I imagine she thinks, she really just says no.
But then it hits her, as it hits me, there are a lot, I mean a lot of happy things in our lives. First and foremost we are both still here, with each other, enjoying each other and yes laughing with each other. Marty hasn’t had a serious illness in well over a year (knock on wood) and she has me, bubbly little ol me to take care of her. Bubbly little ol me has Nykkie, Erica, Renea and LaShonda to help, we have amazing children and family to support and love us and we have the means to live life in a reasonably comfortable manner in spite of all the wounds of life.
It would be wrong, wrong, and wrong again not to claim happiness, even if I am required, through my own psychosis, to feel guilty about it from time to time.
It took time to get over the shock of the events in our lives. It took time and learning to get past some, but never all of the fear and anger, it took time and effort and a very conscious effort (pat myself on the back) to leave the idea of a daily funeral for Marty, the idea that Marty was always on deaths door.
Happiness does not always occur naturally, sometimes it takes effort, sometimes it takes thought, and sometimes it takes accepting the guilt associated with it.
Me, I accept happiness and I expect the occasional feelings of guilt that come with it. It just is.