On Life, Love, and Joy

On Life, Love, and Joy September 13, 2011

We went to the grocery store as a family. My husband had the older 2 kids in his cart, and I had the 2 year old in mine and the baby in the sling. It always fun wandering through the store. We split up to go grab different items, and meet up in the middle of aisles to re-group and check items off the list. We each end up adding a special treat of some kind of our cart, and we usually forget to pick up something we needed. We often stop by at the crab tank, not because we eat crab, just to hear the delighted shrieks of our kids as they watch the “cwab bugs” skitter around the tank.

We always run through the bakery and pick up a free cookie before we head to the check-out line. Since I am obsessive about the order of the items on the conveyor belt, I usually spend some time putting all the heavy items into one cart, and all the produce, chips and bread into the other. Then we put everything on the counter, pay, and spend time bagging the groceries (something I am equally obsessive about).

While waiting in line, Ms Action looked up at the vaulted ceiling and said “How did a strawberry get up there?” Ms Drama looked up and bounced excitedly “A strawberry! Look mom, a strawberry!” she pointed up. The check out girl looked puzzled, and we both looked up and saw that they were pointing at a lone helium balloon, trapped against the ceiling. It was shaped like a strawberry. The older girls interest moved on, but my 2 year old stayed focused.

She stared at the ceiling in awe, pointing at the balloon and whispering “stwawbewwy” to herself. “Mom! Mom! Wook at the stwawbewwy!” She yelled delightedly again and again. Everyone around us was smiling by now. Clearly Ms Pooky’s entire day was being made by this special balloon. A smile nearly split her face open as she hung her head back as far as it would go, staring at the strawberry with gleaming eyes.

We finished bagging the groceries, and it was time to go. As we pushed the carts towards the door, Ms Pooky leaned out of the cart, waving and saying goodbye to her beloved strawberry. Then she blew a kiss and said “See you later!”.

And my heart ached.

She was gorgeous, and so completely happy beyond her wildest dreams because of a simple balloon.
How much longer will her life be this simple?
How fast she will grow and change into a child, a teen and then an adult.
How many times will she get hurt?
How many times will her heart be broken?
How much longer can I keep her just like this?

As we drove home, I was somewhat melancholy. I continued to think about how fast life goes. How fast we lose that childhood wonder to the serious worries and problems of the adult world.

We waited at a stop light and suddenly a huge bright red motorcycle pulled alongside us, music blaring. I looked over and had to smile. There was a little middle aged man perched on the motorcycle, black helmet, white moustache, leather jacket. And he was dancing. J. Lo blared from his motorcycle stereo, and the little man bounced up and down singing along with the music “If you’re an animal then tear up the floor, break a sweat on the floor, on the floor.” He patted his handle bars and moved his double chin up and down “Don’t stop keep it movin’ put your drinks up!” The light changed, and just as the radio blasted “Dance the night away” he vroomed off, speeding quickly ahead of the near bye cars.

And he was adorable.

He was made as happy by his red motorcycle as my baby had been by a red balloon. Do we ever really grow out of that ability to be in awe of the goodness of life? I hope to hang onto that happiness, and pass it on to my toddlers, as they grow into children, and then teenagers. Until they are adorable middle aged people who dance to J Lo, and on into old age. I know I’ll be in awe of them and in love with them through all the stages. And I hope that they will be able to live in awe of life, and in love with living.

Because we’re never too old for joy.

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