I have been easily pondering happiness as I share time this week with my niece, Alicia, and her oldest son, Connor, now three-and-a-half. He is my grandnephew and I am more than delighted to spend time with them visiting Seattle from Alaska.
As many of you know it is not a pleasure trip for them, but instead a week long adventure of doctor’s visits, procedures and re-evaluations. When Connor was barely two he was diagnosed with A.L.L. leukemia. After highs and lows, a bone marrow transplant, weeks in isolation, and a stay that lasted well over a year where Connor and his family lived between Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, it appears most gratefully that Connor is one of the lucky ones. At this moment he appears to once again be a normal, active little boy who is cancer free.
It is Connor and his family who taught me beyond a shadow of a doubt that happiness is possible, even amidst hideous circumstances. Perhaps not easy, but it is possible. It calls for a new way of seeing and a willingness to surrender to the moment.
Happiness is not dependent upon money, although it can be an amazing asset to facilitate joy, or health, although it might have been easier to sustain joy without this weighty detour into illness that flirted with death. Choice was key, and the determination to see happiness in the cracks of life was essential.
With the near loss of someone so innocent and the awareness this situation brought that life is so fragile, Connor’s journey, accompanied by his dedicated family and support circle of amazing and generous angels, offered us all a new way of treasuring life, and a more conscious way of appreciating each moment. Connor’s gift to us was a peace beyond comprehension. Our strength and faith was expanded by experiencing that happiness is ours when we open our hearts to the blessings of what is, and the power of connecting in a healing circle beyond differences and circumstances.
Between medical appointments today I strolled through a near by park with Connor and his mom, content and grateful for one positive report after another. You could tell Alicia was savoring what others might take for granted. Her son was finding great joy in kicking pine cones and chasing his shadow.
With a sweet smile on her face I overheard Alicia say, “Connor, I love you”, to which Connor replied, “I love me, too.” One more important lesson offered by a now not so bald headed little Buddha.
This is happiness at its best.