wings and things

Terribly happy

on December 19, 2017

About a week ago, I suddenly experienced an oxymoronic sensation of intense happiness and intense sadness in the same exact moment. At the time, I thought it was a fleeting thing but I was wrong; it has continued to be a constant sensation, ebbing and flowing in its intensity somewhat, but always there, here (in my throat, in my chest, or in my stomach).

This terrible happiness is mostly a kind of flutter – a mixture of dread and excitement that pushes, from inside, against my ribcage, like a moth caught in the dark light, wanting, but not wanting, to fly free.

At first, I thought this sensation was impossible, so I googled the question “is it possible to feel happy and sad at the same time?” I was surprised to find that many others had also wondered about this paradoxical sensation. Most people, however, expressed the opinion that it was impossible.

I felt smug, knowing by then that it was absolutely possible because I had it – this terrible happiness – and I had had it for several days. It’s there, quietly, underneath my day-to-day doings, but I can also conjure it into a louder refrain and every time I do this, Anthony appears in the rear vision mirror of my heart and he is young and vibrant and laughing his approval.

The grief component of this terrible happiness is tear-drenched, but the happy component of this terrible happiness is buoyant, curious, unafraid and very, very surprised!


Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and new year, especially those who are going through difficult times. I hope to get back to reading others’ blog posts soon, and I am very grateful for all of the support Ming and I have received since Anthony died. Thank you.


32 responses to “Terribly happy

  1. Vicki says:

    I hope you, Ming, Meg and all your extended family have a great Christmas also. I’m sure there’ll be mixed emotions, but you have such a wonderful family and supportive friends, no doubt this will make the ‘first’ Christmas without Ants something special, at the same time spending a few quiet moments remembering times past.

    About time to create some new traditions also. It’s so easy to make the holiday season, whatever your religion, a joyous occasion, but sometimes older traditions and memories can do with an unexpected twist – I’ll bet Ming would be the perfect creative soul to think of something.

    Lots of Love and Good Health for the Season Vicki xx

  2. Julie, thank you for letting us know how you are doing. I wish you the best Christmas season that you can have, knowing that it will be very mixed. I hope that the New Year will bring better days.
    Hugs from across the world Bx

  3. judyrutrider says:

    Absolutely brilliant writing! I can almost feel it too.

  4. susanpoozan says:

    You are so good at expressing your complicated emotions, I hope sharing them relieves the pressure. Enjoy Christmas as you are able and all good wishes for the New Year.

  5. Writer Lori says:

    I’ve learned that when it comes to emotions, pretty much anything is possible. Wishing you and Ming a happy Christmas, Julie…

  6. ksbeth says:

    wonderful – you are beginning to take baby steps into your current and future happiness – glimpses of all that is right over the ridge – all with anthony’s blessing and approval. his loving holiday gift you –

  7. It is so filled with grace this terrible happiness you describe Julie. What a gift to be conscious and aware to recognize its gifts. Sending you and Ming much hope, peace, joy and love as you navigate this new territory this Christmas. ❤

    • jmgoyder says:

      You probably don’t realise what a profound influence your blog has had on me over the years, Louise. I have learned a lot about grace from you. Thank you so much and I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas xxx

  8. Merry Christmas, Jules. I know it will be quite a different one for you this year! Hugs. ❤

  9. Judy says:

    Julie, you are healing!! I think you’ve carried grief far longer than many people do because your grief began when Anthony went into the nursing home. Like a wound, it cracks and bleeds but you are feeling alive again. And that is why you are “terribly happy.” I hope you can go with the flow of it. Please don’t feel guilty that your love for Anthony is only equated with tears. Your happiness also feeds into his love as you realize – he wants you to heal and live again.
    Perfect timing for the holidays. May you have more and more happy moments!!!!

  10. tootlepedal says:

    I hope that your happiness continues to haunt you! Have a wonderful Christmas in spite of everything.

  11. Have a blessed Christmas!

  12. Heather Hugo says:

    What a beautiful letter, although I must admit I will have to look up oxymoron in the dictionary!!You know I think God is edging gently deeper into the thoughts of his beloved child. Love Heather xx

    Sent from my iPad


  13. Yes I believe it is possible to be happy and sad at the same time

  14. I can’t compare my experiences with yours Julie. but I can share it with you. When my father died, we his children, all wrote his eulogy together. From the moment of the reading of his eulogy, and onward, I experienced both joy and sadness together. At his funeral we were laughing at the funny things he left in our memories, and it was pure joy of laughter, while at the same time our hearts were broken. It’s not exactly the same, but I feel like your post made sense because of that.

    I wish you and Ming and your mother a beautiful Christmas full of love and joy, and wonderful memories.

  15. Judi Lynn says:

    Anthony’s happy now. He always clung to happiness. Now it’s your turn again. Be happy! He’d want you to. And hope you and Ming have wonderful holidays.

  16. I’m sure that you have such a myriad of emotions, it must be at times both perplexing and emotionally exhausting. It will likely be ongoing for quite awhile…. but hopefully there will be a time when the sweet and wonderful memories are most prevalent… take care Julie.. Diane xx

  17. Dear Julie, I’m sad with you, and amazed that you are already feeling feelings of happiness at times. You are such an amazing, resilient, authentic person. Thinking of you. Tracy (Lee Karner) Rittmueller

  18. Tiny says:

    I understand exactly what you felt, Julie, because I have felt it too after my double loss in July. You put it very well in saying “wanting but not wanting to fly free”. I wish you happiness in 2018.

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