Return to Joy

April 25, 2013

Guest Post by Carrie

I so rarely take the time to sit STILL anymore, to liberate my thoughts.  Amidst the stack of work needing to be done for my bookkeeping clients, the homework assignment that was due an hour ago and all of the planning to be done surrounding this film, I feel compelled to allow myself to be in this moment.  Right here, right now.

I’ve found myself involved in several unexpected but welcome conversations recently.  Conversations that have given me the opportunity to go back in time ten years.  To speak through tears about who Elena was and who she is.  It isn’t easy go to that place again, nor is it easy to be working on a film that puts me on the receiving end of heartbreak every day.  Yet as I read, listen to and absorb the words; as I see the images of tiny feet and little white caskets, my heart breaks and mends in ways I can’t explain, and I somehow make my way back to joy.

For as long as I can remember I have loved the fact that my middle name is Joy.  Growing up as Carrie Fisher, the nickname “Princess Leia” was automatic and seemed to follow me everywhere I went, so having the “Joy” to break things up made me unique.  People would ask if it was short for Josephine and I would answer very simply, “Nope.  Just Joy.”  I remember asking my Mom how she decided on my name and telling her in my smart-Alec-y ten year old tone of voice, “You must have known I was going to be a happy kid.”

It’s interesting to think about those words that I spoke to my mother, especially now that I’m a mother too.  First off she didn’t “know” I was going to be happy.  None of us can ever really “know” what lies in store for our children, as most of us here have so painfully been made aware.  I also realize now that I misspoke when I used the words “joy” and “happy” so interchangeably.  They’re not the same.  Happiness is a feeling.  It’s vulnerable to situations and circumstances.  Joy, on the other hand, is a state of the soul.

For those whose grief is fresh, it can be difficult to imagine having joy again.  You remember it from your past but after your baby dies it seems impossible that joy will be a part of your future.  When the concept of taking things one day at a time seems so overwhelming that it’s all you can do to get through moment by moment, joy isn’t really involved in the equation.  But I am here to tell you that one day, when you least expect it, you’ll discover that it’s there.  No bells and whistles or fancy wrapping paper to announce its arrival, but the gift of joy will be yours just the same.

I often tell people not to take the pain for granted either, for without it you would never know joy.  Pain breaks you down, strengthens and refines you, and gives you the point of reference you need to truly value what is joyful in your life.  We would never ask to go through what we’ve been through.  But we’re here now.  Give yourself permission to wonder and fear, to feel the anger, to cry the tears, to wish things were different.  And then give joy a little credit for being able to not only handle all of that, but to become a part of it.

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