There is a thief that creeps into my life and steals happiness from time to time. It started in high school when this now familiar trespasser intruded on my blissful world. I didn’t quite understand the ramifications of its visit. I knew my recollections of sitting in front of my “aunt” Eleanor’s tv listening to my “uncle” Frank were now tarnished because this interloper had stolen in and changed him.
A year later, I began to understand as I watched my mom say goodbye to her best friend while this thief stole her away to join her beloved. I proceeded to rejoin the sanctuary of my high school years and enter into the vast world of college only to be visited once again.
This time the gatecrasher chose to intrude on my sister’s happy new life half a country away. I watched as she struggled with the scar that would prove its banishment, hopefully for eternity, only to have it slide back in every year during her attempts to ensure that there was no resurrection. What followed can only be described as a tense respite.
I discovered that that reprieve, as tense as it was, was due only to its decision to build up to an ambitious third act. It tiptoed its way into my house and this time I watched it steal my protector, my biggest cheerleader, my superhero, my dad. The boldness of this thief was two-fold in that first I watched it thieve the body and then the mind.
Certainly the thief must be done now with this finale, I thought. It has most certainly overstayed its welcome. But I was only to be thrust into yet another tense intermission.
The next time my adversary opted to appear found our circle to have grown by leaps and bounds, yet with pieces of our puzzle forever lost in the abyss where lost pieces go. By now, I was expert at handling the twists and turns its appearance brought to my life. Compartmentalizing was my game of choice and I was champion. I said good-bye to my Grandma holding on to my niece who reminded me that she was going to the stars with Papa.
My foe slunk back into the shadows, always waiting to appear when the opportunity struck. Opportunity arose soon and it audaciously dared to intrude on the center of our circle. I held my mom’s hand and watched as she now struggled with her own scar that would aspire to hold it at bay for as long as possible.
Our circle, patched and mended, and now grown by many continued to spin and collect happiness until this past fall. The thief, having gained the ability to sense joy, implanted itself for a brief but destructive stay. I watched as it in quick succession stole away my aunt’s cherished other half and still hearing the four gun salute ringing in my ears, I watched as it fused with its associate, old age, and shamefully stole away to the stars, in the middle of the night, our Opa. As if it thought that the cover of darkness would protect it from the wrath of our circle, still malfunctioning from sorrow but strong enough to band together to find joy and happiness once again in the smaller parts of our spin. Who will carry on in the wake of this thief and will help to mend our circle, now smaller by many, upon any future visit.
Damn you thief of happiness, thief of laughter, thief of hugs, thief of kisses, leaving me with memories of love tainted by your visits.