Pursuit of Happiness

What a rough week last week. 6 months. 26 weeks. Aching heart.

Faced with a 3-day weekend, I was thinking I’d spend my time alone, in the basement, binge-watching Food Network or HGTV.

This is typically what happens. Bill might do some work around the house. I might do some laundry or vacuum. But mainly, we stay home, quiet. Then, Bill will go to bed, since he works overnights. It’s a lot of time to myself, to be alone with my thoughts. To ponder what life might be like if Joanna had not died. To wonder if I could have done anything differently. To read our “Dear Joanna” tags. To sit in my grief and feel all the feelings that come with it, especially anger last week.

But I had a thought. If I am striving to reach happy, to find that place where we honor Joanna but we are happy more than we are sad, how am I helping myself by sitting alone in the basement? I decided on Thursday that Bill and I would #dosomethingfun (per my Instagram account) every day of the long weekend. We would try to get out and to be happy and to celebrate life – because though Joanna’s life with us was cut very, very short, we can still live for her, for us. We can still pursue happy.

And what a perfect weekend to do so – Independence Day.

Thursday we had dinner together, at the kitchen table. We had real conversation and good food. Together. Then, we went bowling and I won 3 of 5 games. Bill had the highest score of the night on our final game though.

Friday I met up with a friend from our support group for breakfast. It was nice to have the chance to get out of the house and talk to a friend who knows how I feel, but to be able to be together and talk about other topics too. Friday also brought sad news of a friend’s 17-week loss. It’s an interesting juxtaposition, to have your heart break so hard and so fresh in one moment of devastating news, and then to have it soothed by a friend who relates. By Friday night , I was ready for our #dosomethingfun – we went to the movies and saw Jurassic World. Ironically (?), our trip to the movies was free, as I remembered to use an unused gift card from my co-workers that they had given me after J died – something to get Bill and I out of the house together.

Saturday morning I got up and ready to go and as soon as Bill got home we headed out to Occoquan for kayaking. This is an activity we have enjoyed in the past and on vacations and have been meaning to do for a while now. We spent two hours on Occoquan River, listening to birds chirp and waters flow, admiring boats at the marinas we passed, taking selfies and, unbeknownst to us, getting sunburn on a very cloudy day. Afterward, we went home, ate some Smith’s hot dogs from home and had ice cream sandwiches. After Bill went to bed I spent the evening watching Call the Midwife (still not sure how I watch this show after what has happened to us, but it’s almost therapeutic) and comforting the dog because he is terrified of fireworks.

Finally on Sunday our #dosomethingfun was fishing! We have been talking about fishing for so long but haven’t gone. Saturday after kayaking we stopped at Dick’s for our licenses (and a Calia by Carrie Underwood workout headband that I have been eying since March). So Sunday we drove up to Manassas Battlefield Park and hiked down a trail to one of the small lakes. I caught the first fish (after Bill put a worm on the hook for me…) and he caught the second, which was about three times the size of mine. We didn’t stay long because the bugs were bad, but we had a good time just being out in the woods together. Peace. Quiet. Worms. Bluegill. And lots of love.

To some, I suppose this just sounds like a nice holiday weekend. To me, it was a huge success, a big step forward. And regardless of whether I end up taking a step or two back, because I am sure I will…I feel like this weekend was a win. We got out of the house. I didn’t hide…I flew! Bill and I spent time together doing things we love, things we haven’t done in a long time, things that are a part of who we are. I don’t think Joanna would want us to forget that we are a happy couple – competitive, fun-loving, adventurous. We can still be J’s parents, we can still grieve, but we can still pursue happy and have fun. That doesn’t detract from how much we miss her, it adds to the ways we honor her.

By living.

#dosomethingfun

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4 thoughts on “Pursuit of Happiness

  1. Mom says:

    That was beautiful. Hope you have plans to keep it up, though I suppose Bill was pooped! You have come a long way since that December day when you found out that Joanna had died, and the next day, delivery day. You and Bill are strong individually, but as a couple you have a power and grace that is unmatched individually. Stay strong, and grieve, together. See you soon!

  2. everydayspirit1 says:

    Sounds like you guys stood in a little bit of sunshine. Here’s to a weekend deeply lived and hearts wide open. You deserve the moments of joy. So moved by your story of finding some. Love your plan. #dosomethingfun

  3. mrsporterandco says:

    My brother and his wife lost a baby at 6 months back in March and they are still struggling to find ways to enjoy their lives as a couple.

    It is nice to read that this is clearly a very normal part of grieving your child but that there are times were you are starting to find ways to enjoy life – and that it doesn’t mean you are moving on or forgetting Joanna but as you said, honouring her.

    I’m glad you had a nice weekend and I hope there are many more moments to come.

    (My favourite part was when you both sat down to dinner – it’s different eating at the table and talking than slouched in front of the TV).

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