The last of our grandkids and their parents had just left, leaving behind them a trail of Legos, coloring books, and soccer balls. There were sticky spots on the floor from spilled juice boxes, pieces of yellow cheese stuck to the bottom of my shoe, and of course the ever so tiny fingerprints all over my newly cleaned stainless steel appliances. “I need to have the housekeeper start coming on Fridays, instead of Wednesdays,” I said out loud to my husband. He was already busy loading the dishwasher and feeding the dogs pieces of leftover tri-tip. I grabbed the toy tub, and a wet rag, and started to tackle the mess. Who knew that 3 little kids could reek so much havoc and craziness but still manage to fill my heart (broken and all) with such immense joy. Thoughts of the laughter-filled afternoon replayed in my mind. Watching Hayden wobble around as he tried to master the art of walking,… Aubri giving me a ‘Glam girl’ makeover …watching Ares dancing to, of all things, Gangnam style for the umpteenth time. Whose life would not be 100 percent content and filled with the utmost joy and happiness having this abundance of love?! Whose sadness would not be magically erased by one simple wet slobbery kiss or an “I love you, Abuelita. I want to stay with you forever and ever.” Whose??? Mine
Not that long ago, I concluded that no matter what wondrous things come my way, I will always be sad. I will always have a void in my heart. This is not a pity party nor I’m not saying this for anyone to feel sorry for me. I stopped feeling sorry for myself a long time ago. I just painfully and simply accepted the fact that this is the happiest I will ever get. My life and my home can be overflowing with leftover craft glitter, ferocious plastic dinosaurs, and endless amounts of fruit roll-ups yet, I will always be sad and my heart will forever be broken. After you’ve lost a child there simply is no way of putting yourself back together, and bottom line, you will never be 100% happy.
This does not mean though, that I don’t find joy in the marvelous things happening around me. I watched my beautiful daughter walk down the aisle and witnessed her hold her newborn baby boy for the very first time. I was there when my son received the keys to his new home and been present for all of my grandchildren’s greatest accomplishments. I have traveled to beautiful foreign countries and visited some breathtaking islands. My husband has fulfilled my every desire and I lack for nothing tangible. But, as amazing and wonderful as these experiences have been, they will never fill the void, they will never fulfill me, they will never be enough. No matter how incredible all this has been, I will always wonder how much better they would have been if Joey would have been a part of them.
Would he have been the life of the party at his sister’s wedding? Would he have helped her pick up the pieces of her broken heart? How much fun would he have had on our family trip to Hawaii or Aubris’ birthday party at Disneyland??! How proud would he have been of his little brother becoming a homeowner? Would he be teaching his niece and nephews how to throw a ball or enlightening them with his quirky sense of humor? Would I have ever had the opportunity to dance at his wedding or watch as he held his newborn child? Would I have had the delight to clean his children’s fingerprints off of my appliances? I will never know. Thus, this is where my sadness lies.
So, with that, I have tried to adjust to this new life I never wanted. I have fought many battles and I have come out victorious… never unscathed but victorious nonetheless. Through all of these lessons, one of the most powerful things I learned is that the secret to finding happiness is accepting where I am in life and making the most of it.