Where’s the Joy in Life?

Where's the Joy in Life? Robin botie of Ithaca, New York, gets kissed by Suki the life-saving dog Botie inherited from her daughter who died of leukemia,Marika Warden.“Where’s your toy, Suki?” I ask every night as my dog and I make our bedtime tour of the house to collect Green Ball, her favorite toy. The dog I inherited from my daughter who died is my lifesaver now. When I think I’m drowning, Suki shows me the playground our world is. Our nightly routine is to find her toy and settle into bed, and then she rolls over so I can give her a belly-rub as I recount the best parts of the day. Before turning out the light, I tell her what we can look forward to when we wake.

The first ten days of August had been full. I performed my book reading, went to a hikers’ picnic and the theater, ate several dinners out, and spent a weekend away at Lake George. Suki and I hiked with friends almost every day. Each morning we saw a great blue heron take off from the pond. At night we watched the moon reflected in the pond as frogs sang. I tried to videotape the full moon and the frog-song but Suki whined wanting my attention and I laughed too hard to hold the camera.

Then came August 11th. There was little planned for that week other than medical tests. On the calendar was written: CT scan, mammogram, eat only clear liquids, call lab for test results. It rained, the driveway flooded. The credit card bill came due. I learned that since I had lyme disease I could no longer donate blood. The great blue heron disappeared along with the resident duck. Rodents noisily clawed their way through the house’s rafters. Robin Williams died. Lauren Bacall died. The days were spent waiting for doctors’ calls, not daring to make plans that would need to be cancelled. Another diagnosis, a rare disorder, my doctors couldn’t answer my questions, it wasn’t cancer but I couldn’t be grateful.

For seven nights I sank into bed scared.

“Where’s the joy, Suki?” I asked last night, sobbing to my sweet inherited dog as we settled into bed. Suki looked straight at me, picked up the Green Ball, and merrily squeaked it in my face.

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12 thoughts on “Where’s the Joy in Life?

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Whew! I’m sorry, Robin. Planning your life around doctor’s appointments is a bummer. Somehow, by grace or will, things will change because they always do.

    Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    There have been many times in my life when I had a hard time finding the joy, Robin. I feel for you. So glad you have Suki, who can find it in a green ball.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Wishing you a lot of joy too, Lynne. Soon. A dog isn’t for everyone but it sure does put some of the smiles and laughter back into life.

      Reply
  3. Gladys Botie

    You’re experiencing the oncoming of the “getting-older-blues” — even tho you have a long way to go before you reach anywhere near where I am now. This too shall pass. Where’s the joy in life? How about that your medical diagnosis was not cancer nor life threatening? How about that you have some wonderful supporting friends close by? How about that, despite your unemployment status, you are not in real financial distress? How about that you are still pretty darn good looking for your age and physically able to go hiking and climbing with your group? How about that you still have two sisters and only a slightly deteriorating mother who love you intensely and would do anything (almost) to make you happy. Where’s the joy in life? Even Suki knows — it’s all around you. Mom

    Reply
    1. M

      The sweetest and only reply Suki answered, “It’s in the green ball mamma!”
      Suki, Marika . . . I so enjoy how you continually love and lift your mom. May joy be forever at the core of your love! You’re both doing a wonderful job!

      Reply
      1. Robin Botie Post author

        Mary, you are too terrific. Thank you. I love seeing Marika’s name on my screen, seeing her addressed as a force in my life. Suki’s the one loving me these days but it really is Marika who lifts me. Along with sweet friends like you. Cheers!

        Reply
    2. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Mom. Okay. I got it. You’ve given me some more ideas of what to blog about here. Let’s both keep the “slightly deteriorating” to a minimum – I’ll be coming for a visit soon. Love ya.

      Reply
  4. Kirsten Wasson

    Robin,
    So sorry to hear about some dark days of August. Hard to find the joy, yes, but Suki knows it’s there, even when we humans can’t see it.
    Unfortunately, we frame everything by time and “success.” I’m thinking of you and squeaking in the dark for joy–somewhere, somehow, soon.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Okay, Kirsten. “Squeaking in the dark for joy – somewhere.” I love it. May need to consider this part of my new identity. It really is what I do, as opposed to your bursting out in crazy adventures in LA. Thank you for recognizing joy even in the dark. Enjoy your joy wherever it is.

      Reply
  5. Clifford Blizard

    Robin, this is a lovely piece. I appreciate so much your discovery that happiness is found in simple joys — moments of delight, of wonder, of connection. They can be transitory, easy to miss. But if we stop and let those moments in, the result can be magical.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you, Clifford. And welcome to my online home. I have learned a lot from your site, Commonplace Nature. You are the master of appreciating and connecting to simple, easy-to-miss, joys. Cheers!

      Reply

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