When a funny man who spent his life making other people smile suddenly takes his own life, most people want to know how. How could someone who made so many people happy, be so sad. Then there are the people who understand, who can see, that sometimes happiness hurts.
Most of my life I was one of the people who could ask how on earth could someone ever feel so sad. I lead what I felt to be a life that was charmed. Perfect, no, far from perfect, but happy. Happy to the point that I didn’t understand sadness or depression or people who couldn’t figure out how to be happy. And I lived like this for a really long time. Through the death of my father, a divorce, and loss of a close friend, I was still happy. Not happy like I had been but happy, I had yet to experience something so life changing that it would change the core of who I was to give me the perspective to understand what true sadness is.
I turned forty this year. The hardest part of turning forty is you seem to do lots of sudden self reflection. When I think of what to this point in my life I have accomplished that I am truly proud of, what I truly believe in, it’s my children. Will and Faith. They are what has given meaning to my life. They are what I haven’t messed up. They are what I know I have done right. They are strong, loving, caring children. And they love me. They love everything about me. Total true unconditional love. They are how I began my real faith journey. They radiate the love that could only be god given. It’s too good to be anything but this.
With that love, I believe comes my true understanding for sadness. Only since Faith was diagnosed with her disease have I been able to understand. Now, I am not saying that I am not happy. In fact. there is a part of me that thinks the way I live life now, thankful for everything about my children is more rich than when I was happy all the time.
But I am in a place in my life where happiness hurts. Faith has been doing pretty well. She has been spending most all of her time at home and not in the hospital. This obviously makes me so very happy. But her time at home means she needs feeds and fluids and meds every few hours. When I think of why happiness can be so hard I think part of it is that. I have my hands on the very thing I spend so many hours being worried about. Its in our face, in our hands, in every room of our house. There are medical supplies, syringes, ostomy bags, feeding tube supplies, it is everywhere you look.
My Dennis gets a day off of work every week, and he takes me out. Maybe for two or three hours. And he always asks me, what can I do to make you happy. Because if you know Dennis you know he would do anything he could…And the saddest thing is I have no idea. I want my mind to stop thinking of the best way to keep Faith’s yeast under control, I want to stop thinking about whether or not we could switch to a four hour fluid schedule, I want to stop thinking about whether or not to tell her the truth about her friend in Australia with her disease who died at the beginning of the summer, because every time she asks to face time her I want to burst into tears. I want to burn the bankers boxes of unopened bills, I want to not look at the forecast before we make decisions about Faith going outside and I want to lay in bed at night and not worry about how this disease is going to progress.
I have moments of happiness, honestly I have hours of happiness, but even then when I am happy, the happiness hurts. Because I am scared about when the happiness stops. My mom asks me all the time oh, didn’t you see that on Facebook….she’s retired, with more time on her hands so she’s on it more often….I look at Facebook and I hold my breath…because my colostomy association, and HD group and Mott Mom’s are full of updates that remind me that happiness isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Before you start to panic, I see a psychiatrist and he thinks I am doing pretty well. And though I am really good at fooling most of you into thinking I am a rock, and totally unaffected by all of this going on around me, he sees right though my bs. He jokes that the punishment meets the crime, meaning I am appropriately sad for the situation I am dealing with and apparently the fact that I know I am sad, means I have a handle on reality. Boy, there are days I miss telling people to have a magical day. I think if Mary Ann of today met Mary Ann of 2002 I would probably smack the perm-i-grin right off her face. I miss that naïve girl who thought all days were magical. Sometimes I wish my friends like, Nicole and Heather could meet that Mary Ann. They would like her so much better then the distracted friend who has a hard time holding dinner conversations without getting distracted by a text that says mommy, my tube is bleeding.
Recently, my escape has been the TV series House. It’s on Netflix and I have what some people may call an addiction. Strange? It’s all about this doctor curing unexplained disease and illness….I’ve watched two seasons and I am pretty sure I’ve only seen two deaths…he’s really good. There was an episode that I almost feel like was the whole reason I started watching the series.
Nine year old girl, cancer, with what House described as unreal bravery. He tried to convince the other doctors that this child had to have a tumor that was putting pressure on the area of the brain that was controlling her fear, that she wasn’t or couldn’t possibly be so strong. She reminded me of Faith, she was brave about tests, and treatments, and I knew that kids who get chronic or life-threatening illness at young ages often are really unbelievably strong. I didn’t agree with the whole tumor theory.
Then House, confronts the girl when she is alone in her room and she admits, her strength is for her mother. That the nine year old was worried that if she wasn’t strong her mom wouldn’t be able to handle it. Yeah, it’s only a TV show, but suddenly I realized that could be my Faith, pretending, just like that girl and just like me that this is all okay, that god made her this way for a reason, and she was happy about it.
Because we do really believe there is a reason for all of this. There has to be.
Faith had a fever for the last week or so and one night when we were up doing her meds I asked her, Faith does all of this make you sad? She said, yeah, but I think it’s sadder for you because you have to get up and take care of me when I am sick and do my feeds and stuff. I hope she’s right.
I think half of my fear is all of this makes her as sad as it makes me sometimes. I would give her my perfect childhood if I could, It’s so sad to me that she will never understand what a carefree childhood is all about. My saddest memory that I can remember from when I was her age is a balloon that I loved blowing away into the sky. Which sounds almost too ridiculous to write.
All of this being said, there’s one big thing. In learning about loss, and sadness, I have also learned the value of life. I have learned that there are children fighting everyday to stay alive and there are parents who are saying goodbye to their children. It’s painful to me that we don’t get to know the plan and we don’t get to understand why. Why a child. Why on the first day of school. Why that family.
Though every tear, and every struggle I can tell you one thing for certain. I still feel blessed. I feel thankful to be taking Faith to school today, even if it is a week late. I feel thankful that Will has a smile on his face every time I walk into his school. I feel thankful for the laughter I hear at 10pm on a school night because I am downstairs blogging rather than making them go to sleep. In the end I wouldn’t change lives with anyone because even though happiness hurts sometimes, its all worth it.