"You don't smile enough," he said. "You never did."
I smile less now than before. So does he. Last summer we went to see The Police in concert, and when Sting came out on the stage, I started jumping up and down and screaming like a teenage girl. (I heart Sting.) He turned to me then and said, "I haven't seen you smile like that in...I don't know when." And it was true, and his words pricked at the dead place in my heart, that lump of ash that sits in the center of my chest.
And a few weeks ago, on a rare night when I smiled, when we laughed the way we used to, he said those words to me. I told him how, a few months ago, I found myself laughing at something, I can't recall what, but I was laughing one of those deep belly laughs that make your stomach muscles hurt and the tears flow from your eyes. And I realized, I hadn't laughed that way in years. Four, to be exact.
I've always been serious. Many times I was told, when I was younger, that I was older than my years. And I was. I am prone to depression - with the diagnosis and medication to prove it - so a sunny disposition has never really been my thing.
I've lost my joy, what little of it I ever had. And I'm tired of not experiencing joy. Life is too short. Stop yourself and say those words out loud, slowly (yes, you. Now). Life is too short. It's more than just a cliche, it's true. I want to find joy again, and I am declaring to you now that I am going to find it. There are too many shadows, and it's time to sweep them away. I will not live out the rest of my life like this.
* "'I am half-sick of shadows,' said the Lady of Shallott," from the poem The Lady of Shallot by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.