I flopped into bed last night with a peaceful joy. This time last year we were recovering from the worst year we'd had with work challenges, family health and grief. There was no way of knowing what 2011 would bring, but I had hoped and prayed that we would recover some of the joy that we have been fortunate enough to have experienced through life.
From the external perspective its been a cracker. Maria and I had a wonderful time in the UK and Europe, we finally fixed up the front of our house in Temuka Ave. We've more than paid our bills. Maria got her new little Mazda - never thought I'd buy a new car.
In his last year of uni, Zac finds love and a good job. Heidi seems to cruise through her course, works very hard with the kids she looks after for work and is planning another jaunt to South East Asia for 5 weeks in Jan/Feb. Rachel has had a better year living with diabetes and has a the amazing prospect of an experience rich gap year in 2012. Johanna has been as conscientious as a year seven could possibly be and reaps the rewards. Long term friends, time with Grandma in Tassie and sharing our passion for yurting keep her smiling.
Couldn't ask for much more. But it will never be the same. Completely carefree joy will not return. Not like it used to be anyway. I guess I am profoundly grateful we lived for so long believing that everything would be OK, even if it was naive. Ignorance is bliss as they say.
Heidi is a colossus. Her resilience wells me up. Rachel, we will never feel the burden you carry with all the layers of meaning. And I wonder about the cancer gremlins ... gone for now, but for how long?
Sober joy, in the end though is better than naive joy. Because its real. Life is not a picnic, at least not all the time.
Truth is, deep joy never comes from the external, circumstantial stuff. Which is not to say that physical pleasures don't make you happier. You bet they do. Joy and peace always come from within and what is not seen. No amount of orchestrating the circumstances of Christmas make it genuinely merry.
So today we'll dress up and celebrate with Zac - graduation (& Rachel- VCE). Nice clothes, good food. Pride. But the joy is not today's events. The joy was planted by the little things of family life. The relentless accumulation of acts of love, practical and emotional over the years.
Then tomorrow we drive. My heart beats faster just thinking about it.