Joy was like a distant relative I hadn’t seen since childhood. People who live in the extreme hemispheres don’t see the sun for so long that they forget its warmth and illuminating power. I remembered the term but couldn’t quite recall how joy felt. . .
Like a friend tossing pebbles at your window from below, joy invited me to open to it. I was tempted to respond, but was inhibited by the thought that it would be indecent for a person who was so sick and so recently divorced to have joy. . .
I didn’t—and still don’t—want to treat my marriage vows flippantly. I meant those promises when I recited them and never intended to go back on them. Maintaining a joyless existence seemed like the best way to remind myself of that—and at the time, it seemed noble.
But at that moment, I got a distinct impression from the Spirit, a sense of permission—if not instruction—to let myself be joyful again. “It’s okay. You can have joy without disrespecting your marriage or minimizing your loss,” the Spirit assured me. I didn’t need to maintain a dour countenance or punish myself by padlocking my heart. I could open the door for gladness . . .
So I cracked open the window for a brief visit from my old friend, and over time, joy and I have become constant companions again.
Yes, those beautiful girls are my daughter and granddaughter, both of whom have the middle name of “Joy.”
– Originally published in The Other End of the Dark: A Memoir About Divorce, Cancer, and Things God Does Anyway