This is a lesson that is reinforced daily after you lose a life partner. You learn it early in your grief journey - if you didn't learn it before then - and it hits you in the face often as you work at carrying on in your new life alone.
Isolation heightens the awareness that while there are others who influence your activities, actions or thoughts, you are still the only one in your body. You are responsible for the way you think, feel, and act. You are responsible for creating your own happiness.
I interviewed a fascinating man many years ago who spoke about living in a refugee camp. The physical conditions at the camp were best described as squalor. Still, he had been happy there ... because he chose to work at being happy every single day.
I am working at that too.
This was a beautiful day in my neighborhood. Since physical activity boosts emotional wellness, I planned on taking a bike ride to distance-chat with a widow friend and compare notes on how we are each doing. She is struggling with this pandemic isolation on top of her grief at losing her husband - a concept that had struck me more times than I care to count during these past seven weeks - so we chatted and sent love by text messaging instead and agreed to connect again in a few days.
I then contacted another friend and rode my bicycle over for a distanced visit with her. I needed that connection, with a few laughs thrown in, to keep me saner and happier.
During my ride, I enjoyed the sunshine, the clouds, the scenery, and the moments of face-masked smiling and saying hello to passersby from a distance. (Here's another positive about wearing a face mask outside, aside from it keeping me safer - I won't have to wear as much sunscreen this summer!)
After I parked my bike at home, I set up a "Gravity Chair" I had purchased at the end of last summer and had not had the opportunity to use yet. I spent the next half hour sitting in that chair and staring at the fluffy clouds while listening to chirping birds. It was the most relaxed I'd felt in weeks. (Guess what I'll be doing a lot more of in the weeks to come!)
I then peered into my garden beds and was thrilled to see green shoots of Springtime!
I smiled. A lot.
When I finally went back inside my house, I saw a small, yet big surprise sitting on the kitchen counter.
A sign of love from my angels - my departed husband came to mind, of course.
This amazingly small yet perfect white feather was sitting on the counter in a house where there are no down-filled jackets or anything else containing feathers.
How did it get there?
Maybe it attached itself to my clothing during the bike ride or in my backyard and flew off my clothing as I turned the corner to enter the kitchen, landing perfectly still on the corner of the counter, where I could see it.
Or maybe not. The "how" doesn't really matter to me.
Because I am responsible for my own happiness, and I gratefully accept any help I can get from wherever I can get it.
And that feather is going to stay right where it is until it decides to go somewhere else to bring a moment of "happy" there.