Wall of happiness
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As she sat at the desk, the mirror in front of her, she made herself comfortable in her chair, looked at her reflection, and sighed. She hated looking at herself, but when she had no choice, she noticed tears beginning to form through the glare of her glasses. She gazed at the beautiful photographs that she had arduously pinned on the wall beside the mirror and basked in the glory of what will forever be named ‘the wall of happiness’.
The idea of the wall of happiness was to be able to look at parts of her life that were memorable and see all of her loved ones smiling faces beam down on her at this, a very dark time in her life. She tore her focus from the mirror and closed her eyes and moved her head to the right a little before opening them again.
The first picture she landed on was a younger her, holding a tiny puppy. She was immediately transported back to September 1998, the month she was united with her best friend and probably the love of her life, Max. She recalled that picture being taken the day after she had collected him from the breeder. She remembered having to get up at cockcrow to walk to the shop to buy readybrek for her new furry friend. She had puppy food in but the breeder suggested readybrek instead for a while as he was only seven weeks old. She remembered his silky-smooth black and brown fur, and how she was in love with his ears as they hung on either side of his face. She had to introduce a new hole into his black leather collar because the smallest hole that was punched on it was too big. There was life in her eyes then, unlike now, and her smile wasn’t forced. That was the day Max became her whole world!
As her eyes danced from photo to photo, the next one it landed on was of her mother and brother, smiling infectiously. Her mother’s hand was cupping the chin of her brothers face against the double doors that separated her dining room with her sitting room. Her brother looked so healthy. A tear ran down her cheek as she thought back on the past year and all that he’s had to deal with by having long covid. She knew he was going to get a heart test done earlier that day as a complication of the condition and was counting down the hours until he woke, after his gruelling excursion to the hospital, to hear how he got on. Even though that was going through her mind all day, she looked closer at the photo and realised that it was from his 21st birthday party. She can remember taking the picture. The house was quiet, and just after she closed the shutter on the camera, hoards of people entered with copious amounts of alcohol under their arms. That was the night her cousin broke the sink off the wall in the downstairs bathroom after having a ‘moment’ with one of her brothers friends. It took him a while before he could look my mother in the eye again.
She closed her eyes again and moved her head slightly from side to side before opening them and seeing a picture of herself in between her aunt and her aunts wife on the day they introduced her to Pride in Dublin. She was only out of hospital 48 hours, having come out when she was in there. They wanted to do something to celebrate the momentous occasion, so the three of them were donning matching ‘squad’ t-shirts and jeans, the picture taken just before they ran for the train. A smile crossed her face as she remembered when they were waiting for the parade to start, they were guzzling down cider in the dreariest bar on the whole parade route, them being the only ones bringing colour to the place with their face paint and flags that were actually capes. They were three ciders in when the parade reached them and when they thought it was over, they went and bought another round, only to have to put beer mats over their pints as it turned out the parade was still going on. She tried to remember how many times they actually did that before the parade in its entirety was finished.
Next to that photo was her brother in full costume for the mad hatters tea party from when he worked in Disney. ‘He was young there!’ she said to herself. His wine pants and waistcoat brought out the bold blue of his shirt underneath. The expression on his face was nothing but joyful. She thought hard at how someone could smile for that length of time for so long and stay in character in the blistering heat. That was her brother! He put 150% into everything he did, no matter how bad the pay was. The first time she had seen him after he left for Paris was full of fantastic memories. She arrived outside the park, next to Disney village when she saw a vision running towards her, his arms open wide. Tears were shed, but they were happy tears, joyful tears, tears that made her grab hold of him and not let go until she was satisfied he wasn’t just a vision, until she was sure it was really him. When they finally broke apart, she looked him up and down before grabbing hold of him again. It was really him! She was so happy to see her little brother living the dream and a wave of calm overcame her.
She went from picture to picture, each memory greater than the last. There was a reason the wall was dubbed ‘the wall of happiness’ and she knew that covering a wall in the room of a psychiatric hospital was probably unheard of, but it was her councillor who suggested it and she didn’t understand the gravity of how helpful it would ever be until then. This calmness she felt, it was liberating. She was holding the reins of the chariot to getting well, and these memories were going to carry her through. She found each one more soothing than the last and glanced in the mirror. She had a smile on her face and the tears had disappeared! She was one of the lucky ones to have these memories stored in her memory bank somewhere and was finally able to appreciate them for their purpose on her journey. From then on, whenever she was feeling blue, she looked at ‘the wall of happiness’ and found a smile.
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I was waiting for the BUT,
I was waiting for the BUT, and it came at the end. well done.
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That is a really lovely idea
That is a really lovely idea Mono!
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