I believe we have to open ourselves up to happiness, and that true happiness comes at random, small moments. I have come to realize this only recently. I can’t actually remember when it all started. It came seeping in, ever so slowly. My father began to look very withered and old. He occasionally began to say he thought he saw someone in our house out of the corner of his eye. His claims became increasingly more constant. He insisted there were people and things in our house that weren’t there, and would become furious when my mom and I told him there was nothing there. It was a downward spiral from that point. He had slipped away into the depths of his own mind. My mom works night shifts, so I was home alone at night with him. I slept with my cell phone next to my pillow in case of an emergency. I woke up frequently thinking I had heard him yell for help. It felt as if some malevolent being had taken up residence in my home. Then, one night he knocked on my door and asked me to sit downstairs with him. One of the most frightening things I have ever witnessed was watching him. He just sat there silently, his eyes following things from his own invisible reality. He told me he was very ill and he was scared. I called my mom at work, and we took him to the emergency room.
The following month he was in and out of many hospitals. We learned his kidneys were failing along with various other medical issues that were discovered. He was taken off the medications that were causing the hallucinations and began dialysis for his kidneys. That month was a blur of hospitals, stress, arguments, and deep sadness. Usually my mom was able to put me in good spirits, but she was in the same boat that I was in. We barely exchanged words with each other.
Then one Saturday night, we went out to order some Chinese food. It was night just like any other. Things were quiet at first, but then we began to talk on our car ride. We talked and laughed about whatever came to our minds. It felt as if the past month hadn’t even occurred. We picked up the food but we didn’t turn around to go home. We stayed out until about two in the morning that night, driving all over visiting various places. We talked about anything and everything you could imagine. The happiness I felt that night was so intense it seemed almost tangible. I can’t remember another time when I had ever felt like that.
That was the night I came to the realization that if I had just opened myself up and let it in, happiness would have come. I failed to see that it was there all along, drifting behind me like a constant companion. At that moment I also saw that the true, intense happiness I felt that night is elusive. I never would have thought a night going to pick up Chinese food would turn out to be one of my favorite memories. I now savor all small moments I have with family and friends, because those moments are the ones that turn out to be the best.
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