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Lesson two: perfectly happy

I met the man again. I used to think his name was Time, but now I’m not so sure.  I see him often, out of the corner of my eye, hovering just on the edge of this plane of existence.  He’s hard to catch; you have to slow down into one solitary moment and turn yourself inside out like a contortionist, confident that you will be able to slip through the loop in your mind and emerge unknotted on the other side.

He sat on a bench at the lower playground in our park, watching the ducks hunt for water bugs in the makeshift pond where the melting snow drains poorly.  He looked older now than I remembered and grey streaked his black hair.  He wore distinguished black dress pants and shined shoes with a soft grey scarf around his neck, the end of which he twisted around his fingers. He could have been a diplomat for a well-known international organization or a child’s visiting grandfather on sabbatical from some learned, ivy-league college, but I knew the truth.

His air struck me as more wistful than cruel, but when we spoke the same fiery twinkle lighted in his eyes.

“Are you happy?”  he asked me without preamble.

“Yes, I am.”  I’ve learned about Time’s gifts and how they cut and I won’t be fooled a second time.  I want nothing from him.

He steepled his fingers above his knees and listened to children scream down the slide, their cheeks bitten bright red by the cold.  “Are you happy?” he asked again.

“I’m sad,” I said, “because my last baby died.”

“Ah, grief,” he nodded.  “Are you happy?”  His tone never wavered and his eyes fixed steadily on mine.

“I’m safe. I’m loved.” I started hesitantly but grew bolder.  “I’m rich in experience.  I have so much that others lack.  I feel beautiful when Matt holds me.  I feel lucky to be alive when the wind blows and the leaves rattle off the trees.  I have  a fireplace to sit in front of and books to read.  I adore my children.  I have friends and laughter.  That’s a lot of joy.”

“It is,” he agreed and the silence stretched so long that I thought perhaps I’d mastered the art of conversing with Time at last. It never does to get cocky with Time; he’s seen your beginning and your end.

“That kind of joy is bought with a hard currency.”

I raised my eyebrows and bit my lip, not wanting to ask.

“Tears.  So, are you happy with what you’ve bought?”

“I am.” My voice might have cracked a little, but I didn’t falter.  “Perfectly.”

27 Responses to Lesson two: perfectly happy
  1. LauraW
    November 20, 2012 | 4:57 am


    So Beautiful. I wonder how many of us reading this will think (as I did) She’s writing about me.

  2. Korinthia Klein
    November 20, 2012 | 5:14 am

    I don’t have a comment worthy of this post, but not to take a moment to tell you it is beautiful would be wrong. Thank you for writing it.

  3. Gayle
    November 20, 2012 | 8:42 am

    Hmmm..and could she have perfected this writing thing? The elusive? Yes, my dear, you have written yourself onto a cloud of words waiting to be assembled by your smooth tongue.

  4. Annie
    November 20, 2012 | 9:10 am

    Thank you for linking back to your 2009 post. Wow. Fantastic way you have with words.

  5. Sheila
    November 20, 2012 | 10:37 am

    You are an amazing writer. Thank you for this, today.

  6. Mama D
    November 20, 2012 | 12:02 pm

    A hard currency, indeed; but you appreciate your dearly-bought joys the more for it, I imagine. Such a beautiful piece!!

  7. Candice@NotesFromABroad
    November 20, 2012 | 1:10 pm

    I shouldn’t read these first thing in the morning, my eyes are puffy from crying for the rest of the day :)
    Love you.

  8. andy
    November 20, 2012 | 1:22 pm

    I am in awe of your ability with words. Thank you.

  9. Christy
    November 20, 2012 | 2:34 pm

    WOW! You have such a gift with words. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Sharon
    November 20, 2012 | 2:34 pm

    Wow, just wow. Thanks for writing and sharing with me, us.

  11. Lady Jennie
    November 20, 2012 | 2:49 pm

    I would not change one single thing that happened to me. I might want to change the moments when I was cruel or stupid, but I do not want to go back and exchange even one bit of grief. It was bought with hard currency and the treasure box of wisdom, strength and compassion I gained is worth too much to me.

  12. Mom24@4evermom
    November 20, 2012 | 3:52 pm

    Beautiful, but I still wish your happiness wasn’t so expensive. I’ll be thinking of you Thursday and if you have mixed feelings I completely understand. Being sad for what you’ve lost doesn’t make you ungrateful for what you have.

  13. Louise
    November 20, 2012 | 5:08 pm

    This is a stunning piece of poetry. I feel honoured to have read it. Thank you.

  14. melanie
    November 20, 2012 | 5:23 pm

    I feel selfish asking this, but I feel like I have to.
    Please keep writing. Your words move me. This is so beautiful and true.

  15. Deb
    November 20, 2012 | 5:37 pm

    What everyone else said. I love your words.

  16. Christine
    November 20, 2012 | 6:31 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  17. YellowLadybird
    November 20, 2012 | 7:03 pm

    This is so beautiful and painful at the same time. It captures what it is all about, doesn’t it. Thank you for writing – and sharing.

  18. Elaine
    November 20, 2012 | 8:30 pm

    The amazing thing is, that with the way you wrote the words here, I can see you talking to him. This is just beautiful. Painful too, but mostly beautiful.


  19. Ann
    November 21, 2012 | 12:05 am

    Ambivalence as richness instead of deficit–so wise.

  20. tracy@sellabitmum
    November 21, 2012 | 12:19 am

    I don’t even know what to say. xo

  21. Pamela
    November 21, 2012 | 2:52 am

    Oh, my heart.
    You speak a powerful truth.

  22. Sara
    November 21, 2012 | 3:35 am

    Lovely, just perfectly well stated.

  23. Marinka
    November 21, 2012 | 12:49 pm


  24. Jennifer
    November 21, 2012 | 2:00 pm

    Wow! So wise and so well written. Amazing.

  25. tracey
    November 21, 2012 | 4:25 pm

    Love you, Stacey…

  26. Jessica
    November 21, 2012 | 7:36 pm

    I am at a loss for words, truly at a loss. Amazing.

  27. Jen
    November 24, 2012 | 12:13 pm

    Thank you. I am up too early again, the mornings after the ambien wears off and I lay in bed in the silent house waiting for the rest of the world to wake up are the hardest. Its too quiet. I am too tired. The day looms, omnious and foreboding before me. But this was soothing, comforting. Perfect. It warmed my soul. Maybe I can do this day. And the next. And the next. Even if I don’t particularly want to.

    Sending my love and warmth and heartfelt thanks your way. I know you are mourning your sweet baby, too.

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