My default position tends to be on the nauseating side of peppy. I am usually a bloody minded idealist, a dogged optimist… sometimes I suspect that a little too much of what I say sounds a bit too close to words written on the side of life affirming coffee cups…
The long slow slog of dad’s illness gave that side of me a bit of a kicking. My days were no longer punctuated with tea-towel-worthy quotes, so much as choked back tears. It is hard to believe that everything is going to work out fine when you know there is no happy ending, that ‘terminal’ really means the end of this particular line. The lemons no longer seemed fit for making lemonade…
I used to get frustrated with people who assured me that dad would get better if I prayed, had faith, looked to the bright side… who sent chirpy ‘get well soon’ cards when we knew death was already in the room. But I understood that an ending is often easier to deny than accept and a terminal diagnosis takes time to percolate. At first it is impossible to believe, but once the news has sat and brewed, it changes the colour of who you are.
I no longer felt like humming a up rainbow.
Now when I look back, I have to roll my eyes at myself. How easily my blue skies clouded over and my song birds were downed. How crazy that death came as such a shock, that I felt robbed of my happy ending.
We know we will die but we live with that knowledge in dust sheets at the back of the garage, or behind the boxes under the stairs. We hide from it. Ignored and then unleashed, death seemed to be a failure of hope, a catastrophic crisis of optimism. It challenged my view of the world, punching holes in the plots I’d spun: those endless rosy old ages for everyone I loved.
Sadly, I am not the narrator of an Austen novel. I do not have the power to reward the good, and happy endings have to be found in spite of death. They cannot always thwart it with a sneaky dodge or side step.
Yet, I am who I am and death, darkness, doom and gloom be done, I am not prepared to sign up for my Eeyore suit just yet. I will get my bounce back.
Without hope of a happy ending, I need a new kind of optimism, which values the journey and not the destination – since I see that the destination, the ending, will always be the same. We all die.
Right now I am asking what life, this journey means. It’s a big question but maybe in the meaning I will find my a chunk of my rainbow, the silver buried in the storm cloud….