Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy endings

I find myself drifting into mindless puzzles when my brain needs to rest. Or when I simply want to shut it down.

Too many hours are wasted on my hand-held devices playing solitaire and tetris-like games where bubbles or jewels line up and disappear. I escape in a sea of colors and popping sounds as strategically placed diamonds are lined up and cleared.

My husband looks over in the middle of our Saturday night movie and declares that I have a problem. I nod in agreement; I can't beat my high score from yesterday. His comment prompts me to focus on the movie and leave my phone alone.

We don't watch many movies lately. This one is particularly chick-flickish and cute. My eyes well up with tears at the predictable happy ending.

I love happy endings; neatly packaged and wrapped in bubble gum and lollipops. I wish it all ended that way. I don't know anyone who wishes otherwise. But the "otherwise" is where I find most of our stories; narratives we never planned or expected. Yet, here we are - telling the details of a day, week, decade gone wrong and the miraculous outcome that left us survivors.

I survived.

Deep personal loss. Painful tragedy. Misunderstandings that altered the blissful course of my life.

Course. Ha. As if I'm steering.

Last night's happy tears gave way to painful sobs this afternoon as I put down my phone in exchange for recommended reading. I might not have picked it up if I knew the book started with a painful retelling of childhood tragedy. The base of my thumb served as the nearest tissue to rub away the tears and mascara - and this was only the second page.

I can barely handle my own tragedies ... I wasn't ready for yours. Death rips apart the foundation of the soul whether you're four or twenty. The sadness is so basic and common it immediately connects each of us who have felt it's sting yet it is so terribly individual and specific that no one could ever understand our loss.

Perhaps this is why I only watch cheesy movies with predictable endings; life has enough hardship and pain. I don't need 90 minutes of make-believe to rehash the lingering shadows of tragedy in my life.

And I'm hoping pages 3-221 take a quick and drastic turn toward gumdrops and lollipops.

Otherwise it's back to cards and jewels for me.

(I've just begun reading One Thousand Gifts. Have you read it yet?)


Maureen said...

I have read that book--twice--and I love it--and I know what you mean. I wanted to skip that chapter the second time. But I didn't. No gumdrops and lollipops will be found...but the principles in those pages were a profound help to me during one of the hardest seasons of my life. Don't give up on it!!!

Ricky said...

I haven't read it.. at least I don't think so. I forget what I've read too easily and then years later begin reading a book and realize half way through how familiar it seems. I've realized, that for the most part, my life has been tragedy free, (I expect to come, but can't find a defining moment of it in the past) but I still cry at happy endings.