I woke up cheerful this morning.
Normally, this wouldn’t be big news. In general, I have a very positive disposition.
I do get grumpy. I do get sad. Things can and do annoy me.
Part of being a resilient person involves acknowledging reality. And anyone who has any sort of meaningful, non-denial relationship with reality cannot be positive all the time.
But generally speaking, I’m happier more often than not. I’m a very happy, upbeat person with a lot of energy.
But it’s been a difficult spring. Like the rest of the world, I’ve been muddling through the pandemic and everything that that’s meant. Normally a bit of a shut-in because I work as a writer and moved cross-country last summer, I had just gotten out and started to make friends locally when everything suddenly got really damn weird.
And everyone else was a shut-in, too.
It took me several weeks to get cabin fever, longer than most, I think, because of my normal hermit-tude. But I do live in a neighborhood with beautiful parks, and I missed walking around — and occasionally working in them — as I did before the pandemic hit.
And just at the point where I began to long to go outdoors, my father went into hospice and quickly passed away.
That was a little over a month ago. The last several weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. Losing my father has been almost unbearably painful. And because of the pandemic, I couldn’t safely travel the 2000 miles to Maine to be with my mother and siblings.
And they couldn’t even hold the funeral we would have normally (my father was very well known and beloved in his small community).
I’ve been taking my time. Trying to be patient with myself. Feel whatever weird thing I’m feeling at the moment, whether or not it’s appropriate. And like I said before, this definite of appropriate is less about decorum and more about whether what I’m doing actually matches what’s going on.
I’ve written a lot since it happened. Most of it has been private.
Anyway… until this morning, the best I could hope for was that I would wake up feeling neutral. And that I wouldn’t feel sad for a while after waking.
This morning I actually woke up cheerful. And I literally can’t remember the last time that happened. I know when it did that my father was still alive.
I’ve read a lot about survivor’s guilt. That a lot of folks feel guilty when they manage to feel happy following a major loss. They worry that it means that they don’t love the person they lost. Or that they’ll forget about them somehow.
Curiously, that’s not what’s happening to me today. Instead, I’m struck with the realization that Dad wouldn’t want me to be sad forever. That he wouldn’t want me to sit around mopeydope indefinitely.
He’d want me to get things done and work hard.
I have no doubt of that, not simply because of who he was but also because he told me this explicitly. A few months before he passed, we had a conversation that I remember thinking at the time was very strange, where he encouraged me to keep writing. And to “never, ever give up.” I say it’s strange because my father didn’t talk that way. Ever. And while he didn’t come right out and say he was proud of me or that he thought I was a good writer, he heavily implied both.
Which at the time simultaneously knocked me off my feet — and also concerned me. Because it was very uncharacteristic of him to say. (He typically had always said nice and/or encouraging things about me behind my back, never to my face.)
Anyway, I woke up cheerful this morning. I woke up feeling like me again, for once. This is good news, and even if it doesn’t last, I’ll take it.
And instead of feeling guilty about it, I’ll try to make the most of it.