]> One moment of happiness

One moment of happiness

A sketch plan of our house and surroundings. This is a sketch of what I remember, 23 years later, of a dream. Naturally it is wildly incomplete and probably only poorly matches the scene I actually dreamed; but it is as close as I can get. lawn boundary wall cycle-path ← neighbours village → house sheds vegetables flowers paved tree bench I still vividly remember the first dawn of my first child's life. I walked in our yard and watched the light of daybreak wash red over our home amid the fields, as if a fine red mist had settled on our walls overnight, evoking the blood so recently shed in child-birth.

From the lawn by our sheds I greeted a neighbour cycling homewards through our yard, returning from night-shift in the village hospital. She asked after our long-awaited news and called out for joy at my answer as she rode on. I knew of their struggles to get a child of their own; yet no sign of that showed as she bore our glad news to her love.

Later, seated on the bench by the wall, I watched the mid-wife bring out our first-born, along the path between flower-beds and house. She placed the little bundle into my hands – head in one, body in the other – to gently hold and cradle. In that moment, taking that little one up, looking forward to raising my own, I knew total unblemished happiness.

In that moment, I woke – and memory returned, of a reality in which my primary free-time activities for three years had been: curling up in a little ball; crying until there were no more tears; staring at the wall; and wishing I had never been. I neither had nor had any prospect of ever having that pleasant pastoral home amid the fields, much less the beloved wife and child with whom to share my life and love. When I looked to the future, I saw only a half century or so of work, aging and eventual death, tormented always by hopes that I knew to be unrealistic.

In that moment I was in tears, sobbing with grief before I was even fully aware of waking. The author of my dreams knew all that I yearn for in life and forced me to see that I have nothing to live for. It would not be many more weeks before I finally went to my doctor seeking help.

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