But before I reflect on the year that has passed and the upcoming one, the last few days I have been privileged enough to read a life changing book called “The Book of Joy”. It is a recount of the week that Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama spent together in India to mark the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. All their conversations were around joy, and how to recognize and promote joy in your life and in others. I will write a lot more about this book in the coming weeks but I encourage each and every one of you to get a copy of this book and to spend time pouring over it. It truly is remarkable.
“Discovering more joy does not save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters, we have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
It seems quite pertinent in terms of the timing of this book (it was an unexpected gift from a very kind and thoughtful woman) as we go into a new year. Because it really encompasses the way we should all try and live, the joy that we all search for. And it makes you realize that joy is not something that “happens” to you. It’s something over which you have ultimate control and which you engineer yourself.
I went back and read my post from this time last year 11 months and a new year – by Simone, looking back at how I was feeling at the time and what I had set out to achieve in 2016. I remember being in a very dark place when I wrote it, but also feeling somewhat hopeful about what 2016 would bring, especially with me being newly pregnant with Thomas, our gift from Bella. I wanted to be healthy and cancer free; to take a moment to be grateful every day; to help others who had experienced similar hardship; to treasure every moment with your dad and brother and to exercise patience; and to make you proud of me.
I think I have achieved most of what I set out to, but wow, who would have guessed the path I would take. I never would have thought that I would now be writing my letters to 2 children rather than 1, and I never would have been able to imagine the depths of despair I would reach. This is a case where forewarned would not have been forearmed. I really did spend time crawling along the bottom of the seabed. But in this journey of grief and challenges that I experienced, it made my appreciation for life, for each and every blessing, big or small, so so much greater. It amplified my joy for things this year, just the ordinary every day things. Extraordinarily good things don’t have to happen to have an extraordinary life! Life is a gift and a privilege every single day.
How very grateful I am for my psychologist, who has held my hand and carried me through so much of this year. Who has helped me to start this journey of healing in so many ways. To figure out how to feel without being completely smothered by my feelings. How lucky I am to have found medication which can help me be in a place to cope with my grief better, not to numb it, but just not to feel so completely desperate, drowning. There are no words to express my gratitude to my husband for carrying me through so much of this year, for being strong when I was so weak. How lucky I am to be doing life with such a remarkable man. To our darling Murray, without you, I shudder to think how we would have coped, how we would have got up every day to face the world. You have brought so much love, joy and happiness to our lives just by being you. And because of the loss of our darling Bella and Thomas, we really do drink each moment with you in, each one so precious and sacred. To my family and special friends, thank you for looking after us the way you have, for feeling our pain along with us, for supporting and loving us even when I know I didn’t always make it easy. To other friends, our community, doctors, the kindness from acquaintances and strangers alike, thank you to each and every one of you, it carried us so often. To my work and colleagues, who allowed me to use work as an escape, often the only place that still felt “normal”, for letting me cry when I needed to, to take the time when I needed it, picking up what I was unable to do myself, I am truly lucky!
And so looking toward 2017, I am going to have a few wishes and goals. And most of them are probably very much in line with what I set out for 2016, with one or two a little more tangible,
– I would like to continue to exercise and to run a race or 2. It’s so good for me both physically and emotionally and has been a huge outlet for me
– To drink in every moment with Murray, to help him to flourish and just to love him for everything he is. To carve out special time with him every single day because he really is growing up too fast
– To continue to work on James and my marriage, to take time for us, and to be more patient than I often am
– To continue to help those who have experienced similar hardship, to try and ease their path in some way. Because if I could I would spare every single parent from ever having to go through this. I want to help others find joy, and in that way also add to my joy
– To take quiet time for myself as often as possible, to “fill” my tank so that I have the mind space to focus on all the above
– To stay healthy and to learn to listen better to my body and be kinder to myself
James and I hope that we will be blessed with another child in 2017, we would like this so very much, but if it’s not what is meant for us, then we will also do our best to make peace with this. More than anything, I hope for a year filled with joy. From the Book of Joy – Every day, think as you wake up, “I am fortunate to be alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it.”
“Grief is the reminder of the depth of our love. Without love, there is no grief, so when we feel our grief, uncomfortable and aching as it may be, it is actually a reminder of the beauty of the beauty of that love, now lost.”