Thursday February 7, 2013

"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.  You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." - Albert Camus

This has been a theme around our house this week.  Really, it's been the theme for the 13 months since Shannon passed away.  Can we be happy?  What will make us happy?  How do we get there, to "happiness"?

Erin has struggled with this concept.  It is so difficult to reconcile for her that happiness in not a destination, it is a constant process of accepting where you are each day and doing your best to make the most of it.  If you do that - be the best you can each day - then you have to accept that you have done all you can to "be happy".

Circumstances that are beyond our control certainly affect us at times in our lives.  How to move beyond that and let go of those things is the trick.  And, that's hard to do when you are 11 and your sister has died of cancer and your mom is being treated for it.  Add to that the fact that one of Erin's friends is dealing with cancer in her own life - her mother, younger than I, has ovarian cancer and is undergoing surgery today.  I feel for that family, but I feel for Erin, too.

Poor E, at age 11, she knows too much.  When I was 11, I don't think I feared anything, really, and I don't think I had ever even heard of cancer.  Erin has such an awareness of the Big C, and a fear of the worst.  That is an anxiety she will have to live with in her life. She's seen the worst, but needs to find a way to still hope for the best.

So, back to the topic at hand.  Happiness.  Finding joy in moments, in relationships, in the beauty around us is what can make us happy, no matter what has happened before in our lives.  Everyone has past sorrows, regrets, and sadness over loss.  But we can't let those things cloud this moment, right here, right now.

That's what I find for myself, anyway.  I am content when I spend the day in the present, not regretting the past, not fearing the future.  We - me, Dan, and Erin - can't think our way to happy.  We must do, we must live, we must continue to engage and experience things.  Yes, we are allowed some time of quiet thought and reflection on where we have been, but we must also continue to work on moving forward.  That  doesn't mean we are in denial, and it doesn't mean we are done thinking about Shannon.  We never will be.  But, there is a lot of good in our lives - people we love and activities we enjoy.  We are planning some trips.  We are awarding our first scholarships next week. We are preparing to share our book with the world.  These are good things.  This is what we are supposed to be doing, carrying on.

"Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness;  it is generally the by-product of other activities." - Aldous Huxley

Tonight we are contacting our scholarship winners.  So exciting.  Tomorrow I am off to a marketing meeting for Determined to Matter.  But first, tomorrow morning I will complete my 15th radiation therapy treatment.  Halfway done.  Now, that makes me happy...