In the early years of my grief experience, I recall standing at the granite counter top with my hands deep in a bowl of dough. I was drinking red wine and rain was falling, I had jazz playing on my phone. It had been about six months since my dad passed, and I remember thinking to myself, whispering even, “I think I’m feeling happy again.”
It’s courageous to whisper these words.
Brene Brown reminds us of the risk of foreboding, how we have been trained by movies and culture, and sometimes life itself, to prepare for the next car crash, the next death, the next shoe to drop.
I also recall hearing that we, as humans, are bound to experience a major loss every seven years.
In a recent conversation with my mom, she nodded to that statement, and ticked off major life events that caused disruption in her life, every seven years or so. Was the truth there because she was noticing, or because we are bound to try to repeat our experiences in a flow that’s calculable?
I lost my grandmother six years and nine months after my dad passed. And we had a baby, disrupting my sense of calm and confidence I had worked so hard to cultivate since, just a few months before that. This year has been a blur.
And yet, once again, six months after the disruption, I found myself standing at a counter top in a new kitchen with my hands in a bowl of dough. I was dicing up butter and mixing flour and salt to make a pie crust. As I kneaded the mixture, I had jazz playing on my phone. Rain wasn’t hitting the skylights, but instead, a child cooed with her father on the floor. My child. My husband. The man who helped me to bring life into the world.
I dared again to whisper, “I think I’m feeling happy again.”
There are moments that shake us, shape us, and leave us wondering who we will be next. Like snakes, we step out of shed skin that’s no longer needed and move into bigger versions of ourselves. Do snakes feel pain in the shedding? I believe humans do.
In the transformation, the movement of days into nights, and turning of months into years, we have a brave choice to believe we can be happy again. The process takes a long time, and yet, the formula seems so simple.
Surround myself with people I love, with simple ingredients, with time to stand at the counter. I can focus on the next big disruption, or I can focus on the pie crust and what it will mean for a simple dinner at home.
I’m whispering “I think I’m happy again” and that is a beautiful thing.