Recently I had a number of conversations with family and friends about the past. The collective consensus from our group discussions was as follows: the past gives meaning to our lives; it’s what defines us. It started when each of us was born x number of years ago. It defined our family, the schools we attended, the jobs we engaged in, and the friends we met along the way. It described our old girlfriends and, finally, the ones who chose us to be their true love. Our history is punctuated with so many memories from the past. The day we married the birth of our children and grandchildren. I am sure I could spend a lifetime writing about every memory, happy or sad, every struggle and every success, every special moment, and every time I thought I could not get through a difficult challenge. It’s all part of who we are; it characterizes us.
It has been almost three years since my Diane died. As each holiday or special occasion rolls around, my mind naturally goes back to how my spouse and I would celebrate that day. For us, Valentine’s Day was either a special meal at a restaurant, or we would cook our favorite foods at home and enjoy our time alone. Although I feel overwhelmed, especially on Valentine’s Day, with the ubiquitous displays in stores for cards, candy, flowers, and jewelry, I look back with gratitude for the love that sustains me. I celebrate a beautiful love story that I won’t let fade away. I learned about love from my late wife: to always give thanks for what I had and to share love and have fun.
I recently came across an article about a book called The Fun Habit: How the Disciplined Pursuit of Joy and Wonder can change your life by Mike Rucker. Rucker is a psychologist who speaks about the need for all of us to find and enjoy fun daily. He says happiness is not a state we can all achieve, but fun is something we need to make time for each day. His brother died unexpectedly, and it shook him to his core. He did not know how to deal with grief and pain. One thing that helped him immensely was going to comedy clubs and laughing out loud. He said it did not make him happy, but he loved the belly laughs and the jokes. It’s a habit that helped him to deal with pain.
His ideas encouraged me to make sure I take time each day to have fun. I play with my large dog named Petey for 30 or 45 minutes a day as I try to take his toys that he refuses to give up. Often my 65-year-old body is on the ground trying to pull the toys away from my 101 lb dog. I laugh out loud as I attempt to get the toys. You should see me trying to get up from the ground after our battle. I am a bit battered but laughing and smiling. I have more fun than he does.
I love going out to dinner with friends, sharing some laughs, and listening to each one’s story. I am away from my phone, text messages, and emails, which too often dictate my life. I don’t think about what I must do tomorrow, next week, or next month. I focus solely on my time with my friends and share stories about our respective lives.
It’s easy to get caught up in the past. It can be a way not to face the future and to remain caught up in the grips of grief. Friends, find a way to let fun into your life. Do the things that make you smile and bring joy to you. Your wife would want you to be happy, laugh, and enjoy life. Don’t wait for death to take you away. Life is to be lived; grief is to be accepted; like everything else, make it just a part of your life. Make a habit of having fun. I am sure it will change the way you see the world.
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