One of the quotes from our surveys of 2014 said “At Deerhorn, I learned that things don’t always go your way and while you think things might stink, if you look on the bright side it will be a lot better.” I love knowing that kids take that away from camp, choosing to “greet the dawn with a smile.” When you’re young, joy comes naturally. Anticipation of Christmas, a sleepover, a birthday party…I’ve lost track of the number of times my kids have said “This is the best day ever!” What more can you ask for?
But as we get older, joy doesn’t always come as easily. I will be the first to tell you that my life is full of joy. True joy that comes easily, naturally, and my heart practically bursts with gratitude. But life is also full of pain, difficulty, and trials. Sometimes the weight of that pain can feel like almost too much to bear. We lose those we love, we watch the news and are surrounded by word of natural disasters, war, death. There are times in our lives when we have to make joy an intentional choice. As he said in Tuesdays with Morrie, “You have to focus on what is good and true in your life as it is now.”
We spend a lot of time wishing things were different. The intentional choice comes when we look at our life as it is now, and choose to be joyful over what we have, rather than what we’ve lost. Of course, we will still grieve. Jane Goodall said “It is the depth of our love that will determine the depth of our grieving.” To love deeply is a true gift, but it brings with it pain and heartache.
We lost Rio two weeks ago. She had been a part of our lives for 11 years, and had seen us through a lot of heartache. Any of you who have been to camp know how much we love our dogs. Losing one is like losing a family member. The pain never completely goes away, it just gets easier to bear. But, although it hurts, I am also one who tries to see the silver linings. It’s one of my annoying characteristics. Last week, when the doorbell rang for the first time since Rio’s death, the house was silent. I used to hate how she always barked like crazy when someone rang the doorbell, and we never seemed to be able to break her of the habit. It was a harsh reminder that she’s gone, but I also am able to feel grateful that the barking is gone. I will also not miss that barking at camp. Rio apologizes to any campers who she barked at over the years. I will miss her, but I will not miss the barking.
It’s really easy to wallow in my grief, the pain of missing her. But today I choose joy. I am grateful for the joy she brought to our life and grateful to have been loved so unconditionally.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”