I was working on something that took all my attention and the material I was working with was quite grim. It was important work, I knew, but no matter how hard I tried the subject matter started to draw me down. This has happened to me often in my line of work, there aren't a lot of happy stories to be told from the lives of people who suffered institutionalized abuse and personal assault. I work towards a goal that's worthy but sometimes the muck of the present is difficult to get through.
One word brought back a memory and everything felt lighter, I stopped closed my eyes, and remembered.
I was having my birthday party in Ottawa with Ruby and Sadie and their parents. Sadies was a wee babe and Ruby was about 4. She had come with us as we picked up the cake, I had requested a carrot cake because I like carrot cake and somehow, in my mind, it's healthy.
Rubes had not had carrot cake before and she was looking forward to dinner and gifts to get over with so she could plow into the cake. When we were all fed, when wrapping paper had been cleaned up, out came the cake. It was my birthday but it was clear she was getting the first slice. It was placed in front of her, she grabbed her fork and dug in.
That's all it took.
Then she leveled her gaze at me and said: Next time let the kid pick the cake.
Oh gosh, how we laughed.
That was it. A random happy memory switched on by something I was reading, lit the moment, and lifted the experience of the work.
Yes, there is pain in the world, but there is joy too.
In these days we can forget that so easily.