Finding Elusive Joy
Caroline felt weary down into her very bones. The rain was driving down in spikes of misery, making travel on the roads almost impossible and the mood of the drivers – worse. She chafed at the delay, knowing that pert little “twenty something” gal at the day care center would scold her for picking the girls up late, again. Caroline knew that she was late; she did not need a cute little reminder that “planning ahead” kept one from being late.
What did “twenty somethings” know anyway? They were so certain life would always be just as they planned it. Caroline tried hard not to let her bitter feelings surface.
In addition to the day care worker’s displeasure, she knew she would also be facing the displeasure of her little darlings. Caroline loved her girls immeasurably and knew how much they hated staying after school this late. By this hour they were tired and hungry, causing them to become extremely grumpy during the drive home.
Today, the girls would most likely be dirty along with everything else, especially Katrina. Oh, how she loved to play outside and did so at every opportunity. So different from her sister, Madison, who loved to play quietly indoors with her dolls and stuffed animals. She was always “teaching” them things.
Katrina, who loved to run wild in the wind, thought her sister rather strange.
“Mom, who would stay inside when there is so much to do out of doors?” she would often query.
The calendar said it was going to be spring next week. This weather certainly did not feel like glorious spring. Caroline was dreading the upcoming Easter season with all its talk of sacrificial love and the joys of the resurrection. Spring and this holiday had always been one of her favorite times of the year. Resplendent with color and the earth exploding with new life usually brought Caroline such pleasure. But, that was before, before Brad and his deception.
Her friends with their well meaning sympathy and tired cliches about “a mid-life crisis” and “who would have thought” . . . bounced off the armor she had erected around her heart. It was probably why no one seemed to see it was still wounded and bleeding. Caroline’s thoughts trailed to Easter celebrations.
She felt bereft. Her parents planned long ago on a cruise to the Caribbean to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. They suggested canceling the trip to be with the girls and her.
“Absolutely, no! You deserve this pleasure after all your years of hard work, giving to all of us.” Caroline told them firmly.
Reluctantly, they agreed.
This season would be endured just as the past few months had been, resolutely spending each day keeping her emotions tightly in check. It was the nights that got her. The memories and pain would tumble all around until she felt another one could not be survived. Nevertheless, each morning came, and she would face it with a smile plastered on her face for the sake of her girls.
Finally arriving at home, she rifled through the mail. Just as she suspected – there were bills, junk mailings, colorful circulars, and little else. Those circulars held smiling faces showing happy families . . . all intact, ads urging one to buy, buy. buy happiness and joy. Those were destined for the trash, she did not want to remember the days she would peruse such ads, looking for ways to bring fresh enjoyment to their Easter season.
Caroline was about to toss the entire stack on the entry table when a name caught her eye from its perch on the left side of the envelope next to a gorgeous iris stamped in purple. Nanette Franks. A cloudy memory emerged as she thought of high school and her madcap friend Nanette. They had lost touch after immersing themselves in college life.
Once the girls were in bed, she sat down to drink a cup of Earl Grey tea. As she lifted the delicate Limoges tea cup she thought of caffeine’s effects on her ability to sleep.
“Might as well drink what I want,” she mused, “it will be just another night of fighting off the memories and the pain.”
Opening Nanette’s card, she caught sight of floppy-eared bunnies scampering through a maze of colorful wildflowers. It was as she feared . . cute. The inside likely set forth a light little inspirational ditty followed by a casual greeting prompting her to ponder all the joys of this season.
With a sigh, she opened the card and it was full of the charming merriment she was dreading. When a folded note slipped out filled with Nanette’s distinctive backhand scrawl, Caroline smiled ever so slightly. It would probably be enjoyable to hear about Nanette’s life.
It was, however, a note meant solely for her. Nanette was asking how well she was surviving the ordeal. Apparently Nanette had hear from someone about Brad leaving them for a woman half his age. The letter was filled with loving words of encouragement. At the end, Nanette asked how her writing was coming along. Caroline paused, trying to recall just what Nanette might be referring to with this question.
A memory glimmered from the back roads of her mind – graduation day and the pleasant shock of finding out she’d won the creative writing content entitling her to a $1,000 check – big stuff in those days. Caroline had grandiosely told her friends on that day,
“See, I am meant to be a writer and a writer I will be!”
Life and motherhood had obscured the dream.
Something stirred within Caroline. It was faint and very fragile, but slowly, the old dream began to emerge . . . that desire to write out those thoughts and feelings that tumbled so often through her spirit and soul. Nanette was handing her the gift of hope. Caroline’s heart warmed ever so slightly as she thought of the future.
She would write once again. Like the Christ child – though now so tiny and new, this dream would grow into her salvation. Later, as Caroline drifted off to sleep, her soul felt strangely joyful. It was beginning the journey toward its truest destiny.
~Deborah K. McDade
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