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It Isn’t Joyful without You

I used to wonder how it was that the world kept on spinning and life kept on as usual for everyone else while ours was hovering in hospital limbo. When Elli would get sick, we’d initiate survival mode, removing everything but the basics: someone with Elli at all times, someone with the other kids, food, sleep, pets. Sometimes Scott would manage to squeeze some work in. Otherwise, life was frozen, as if someone had hit “pause.”

woman alone

I remember early mornings when neither of us could sleep. I’d look out her hospital room window at the traffic below and marvel at how our life could be so upside-down while everyone else’s was unaffected. Everyone else was going about their days while we were waiting on lab results or watching ventilator settings or finishing out a round of iv antibiotics.

When she was discharged, we’d strap her wheelchair into the van and as I merged into the traffic on the highway towards home, I would have this visceral sense of re-entry. We were back in normal life again (sort of — our lives were never normal after she was born).

When I drive by any hospital now, I think of the people inside, whose lives are on hold while mine bops merrily along. I wish we were more interconnected. I wish we could sense and share one another’s joys and sorrows instinctively. I know I probably couldn’t bear it at times, being so tuned to the ups and downs of everyone’s lives. But I have to believe we’d find incredible comfort in the sharing of the painful, fearful, joyful, and thrilling.

See, what I’m discovering is that it isn’t just the hard times that isolate. I don’t like that when something fantastic happens, it only rocks my world. Fireworks are exploding, orchestras are playing, and flags are flying for me while everyone else keeps on with the humdrum. But it rings hollow to celebrate alone. I want to jump and dance and laugh giddy with you. Whether it’s the birth of a baby, a new job, or the chance to work with an international humanitarian organization, it’s disappointing when few people share in the excitement. I don’t like to be excited alone any more than I like to be scared alone.

Makes me wonder about common understandings of heaven and hell. If we aren’t completely happy unless we’re celebrating with people we love, then heaven (whatever that is) can’t be heavenly without our loved ones present with us. Don’t you think?

What about you? How does it affect you when you aren’t able to share something hard or something great with others? What did you do?


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