The Experts

thanks to the artist who calls him/herself prozac1 for this image.
thanks to the artist who calls him/herself prozac1 for this image.

The experts say that happiness and sadness can’t exist at once.  That it’s impossible to be sad while you’re smiling, that it’s hard to laugh while your heart is breaking.

I disagree.

I believe you can be happy and sad at the same time; know sorrow and joy and how they deeply and mysteriously intertwine, but it’s only until you’ve had that experience of both joy and sorrow in a matter of days, or for some, the intertwining in a matter hours, that you truly start to understand this concept of both emotions co-existing.

It’s the occurs when you of course, are not expecting it.   It occurs when your whole world is brilliantly crashing down before you, a family member close to you dying.  It’s inevitable you know, it was obvious you know, but it’s coming still shocks you like a tidal wave you weren’t expecting, that phone call during Friday night dinner.  The phone call you had to take while sitting down.

It’s that moment then, after dinner your husband suggests that the best thing for the family is to dance, yes, dance, and so he turns on your mix, those songs on the iPod that you especially love, and you all dance like you’re crazy, and the 3-year-old is actually the wisest sage as shaking and shimmy-ing with awkward body movements is the truest and quickest way to joy sometimes.  And then she knowingly blurts out “FAMILY! -” when the Lumineers sing it, and then she yells out again the rest of her comments- “like what we are! Like us!” and you at once are so struck but the insight and utter surprise of her figuring out this beautiful concept, that you are blown away, a mix of happy and sad about knowing and appreciating the paper-thin fragility of life that of course, all you can do is cry happy and sad tears, tears of knowing real joy in deep sadness.

And it’s when the light is pitch-perfect, that golden-pink late afternoon color that as it sets over the trees, spills gloriously onto everything with a touch of warmth.  And it’s when you notice this at the park, your child, beaming with smiles and jubilant laughter and this golden hue on her face and your husband, at peace on the bench bathed also in this beautiful light, and knowing that in the drop of a feather, the blink of an eye, the turn of head, it can be all different, it can all change in a matter of minutes.  Knowing not that it will happen, but when, all the while trying to appreciate the small minutes in life where things are absolutely perfect in their own way.

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2 thoughts on “The Experts

  1. This is so beautiful! You’ve perfectly captured that painful, bittersweet fragility that makes life so scary and so beautiful at the same time. Thank you for writing this and sharing it here. I’m reminded of a line I read recently in The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe: ” ‘The world is complicated,’ she added. ‘You don’t have to have one emotion at a time.’ ” That’s a real trick of life, I think, the complexity of holding multiple emotions in a single, fleeting moment. It’s heartbreaking at times, isn’t it? Painfully beautiful.

    Like

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