We Can Find Reasons to Be Happy and Grateful Every Day
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~Charlie Chaplin
Many people have told me throughout my life that I sound just like my mother when I laugh. I lost her to cancer when I was sixteen, over twenty years ago. I learned from her to laugh and laugh often, even through the toughest of times. “Happiness is a choice,” she always said.
Life has thrown a few curveballs my way over the past five years and tried to test my ability to choose happiness and laughter. My husband, Eric, and I had just started talking about having children when the first wild pitch came our way.
Early in 2010, Eric was diagnosed with cancer. I remember how I refused to cry in front of him or in front of anyone really. I remember how overwhelmingly sad, scared, and angry I felt. I also remember the first time we laughed after we found out.
We were sitting on our couch watching TV, and something very funny came on and we both laughed. I can’t remember what it was. I just remember looking at him and feeling a bit surprised.
I realized that it was going to be really important for us to keep laughing, and we did, often at times when most people would think we were nuts.
We laughed at the crazy sound Eric made when he got sick (to put it politely) after chemotherapy. We laughed when I blew into his ostomy bag to make sure it was attached correctly (a very risky maneuver considering what could have come out of there.)
We laughed hysterically when a nurse very inappropriately commented that our sex life would probably be a lot better once he had the surgery to get rid of the ostomy.
Fast-forward a few years. Eric was healthy and we were ready to move forward in starting a family. We knew there could be some complications, but they turned out to be worse than we thought. Cancer treatments had made Eric sterile and it turns out that I had some issues too.
We decided to try IVF with samples Eric had frozen prior to treatment and failed multiple times. Again, we ended up laughing when most people would think we were crazy.
We laughed when my first embryo transfer turned into a show for about six interns (thank you teaching hospital).
We laughed when we got a box full of hormones and needles that would make some people faint.
We laughed ourselves to tears when an employee at CVS very inappropriately asked me if I was pregnant yet because she’d seen me buy so many tests.
We decided after two rounds of IVF and one frozen embryo transfer that we were not going to do any more fertility treatments. We had discussed adoption before, and we both agreed that we wanted to become parents this way.
We took a good bit of time to research and discuss our options and eventually agreed that open adoption was the path for us.
Fast-forward about a year to today and to the event that inspired me to write this post. We are in “the wait” to be chosen by an expectant mother to become parents through open adoption.
This is something that could take months or years. Every day we are hoping that this woman, who we already love, will find us through our agency and want to place her child, who we already love, with us.
We bought a separate phone for our toll free number to make sure we never miss a call. Today, I heard it ringing in my office and a million thoughts ran through my head instantly. Could this be her, already, we’ve only been live for a month, how should I answer, will I sound stupid…
I ran like the wind to my office and as I was picking it up to answer, my husband jumped out from under my desk and yelled, “It was me!”
I could have been irritated that he scared me half to death. I could have been angry that he got my hopes up that we were getting “the call.” Instead, I chose happiness and we laughed—a lot!
Laughter has kept us sane and grounded through very trying times. I’m so thankful that my mother taught me to choose happiness and that I married my best friend who makes this choice with me every day.
Yes, there have been sad, scary and angry moments, but we have always been able to find our way to happy and hopeful, which will make “the wait” much easier.
We are so thankful that my husband is healthy.
We are so thankful that we have the ability and opportunity to become parents through this amazing and loving way to create a family.
We are so thankful that we choose to be happy. We can’t wait to share our lives, love, and laughter with our child and to teach him or her to choose happiness.
Just as my mother encouraged me, I will now encourage all who are reading this to find at least one moment during the day to really focus on what you are thankful for.
Taking these moments to be grateful—especially on the days when being happy may seem impossible—can be just what you need to get through them.
Through all of life’s up and downs, at the end of the day, it is simply amazing that we are here, and we need to appreciate and enjoy it!
Rebecca Olsen is a happy wife, daughter, sister, aunt and hopefully someday soon, mother. She lives in North Carolina where she and her husband are partners in a construction business with a great friend. They are enjoying life together while they wait for “the call.”