The last time I felt it was six months ago. 

We moved out of the old house and into the new one.  Even though I have threatened multiple times over the past decade that if we ever moved, we would most certainly be hiring a moving company because it was cheaper than the inevitable therapy and possible psychiatric commitment that would be necessary for me after touching every single thing I owned twice (once to take it out of the old house and once to put it in the new one), it became painfully clear that we wouldn't be able to afford it.  Not when we were just moving across town and the distance didn't require such heroic methods.

So we begged, pleaded, asked politely, sheepishly inquired, of a dozen or so friends who all stepped up to the plate, offered trailers, and came with pick-ups, strong arms, willingness to give up a Saturday, and way more good will than I would ever expect for the likes of us.  They showed up in the morning and when the morning people had to leave, others came to spell them.  They took in payment: doughnuts, pizza and Coke.  We didn't even offer beer.  It was terrible, horrible, grueling, and I put more miles on my car in one day of back and forth trips than I had in the previous two months put together.

And much to my surprise, we got it all moved before nightfall, but only just.  Or at least the lion's share and whatever was left was incidental.  We didn't have enough time to put anything away or find our clothes and/or food, and we broke three bookshelves and/or cabinets, and our bed didn't fit through the hallway, and the Shortlings' beds were still in pieces, and there was no way we'd be sleeping in any kind of proper sleeping apparatus that night, but it was all moved and in the new place by that evening.  

Since the beds weren't, ahem, available, we took our L-shaped couch and shoved the two parts of it together to form a giant litter box of sorts.  I threw some pillows and blankets in it and all four of us squeezed in - feet to head to feet to head - exhausted, sore and nearly asleep on our feet.  The KingofHearts pulled out a book and read a chapter to The Shortlings and I put my arms around each of the girls, mostly because there was nowhere else for my arms to go.  I threw my head back against the arm of the sofa and looked up out the window at the stars that night.  The KingofHeart's voice wafted into the air above us and I could hear crickets and was so grateful to have accomplished so much that day and so grateful for the friends who helped and supported us and so grateful to have this family that I love traipsing through life with me and I realized it then: this is what joy is.

Because life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful.

That was the last time I noticed it.  Because then life got really, really sucky.  The renovations on the old house didn't happen as fast as we wanted and then the selling of the house didn't go smoothly and the new job wasn't all that great and all hell broke loose with family and friends and the kids' school year went out like a lion and I worried about it all way more than necessary and everything pretty much sucked for a long time, which has happened before, but my ability to cowboy up and get through it pretty much sucked too.  We kept slogging through, mostly because what else are you going to do?  We tried to do things that would help - to find those little moments of joy.  We carved out time to go to plays and movies.  To spend time with friends and to eat good food.  We tried to scare it away with humor and love.  To make sure to notice the universe and enjoy the beautiful spring in this beautiful new yard we have.  But it all just felt hollow to me.  I tried to remind myself that there are so many good things, and I was right.  Intellectually, I know that.  It's just sometimes hard to feel that.

Depression lies. 

It tells you everything is bad when it its neither good nor bad; it just is.  It tells you you're not ever going to feel that moment of  joy again when that moment is sitting right there waiting for you to notice it.  It says there is no light at the end of the tunnel while it holds a blindfold over your eyes.

Sometimes the only way out is through.

I don't know if I'm close to the end of the tunnel yet; I'm pretty sure I'm still slogging through.  But tonight, I drove the Dormouse back from an activity and it was clear and cool out and I had the windows down with my arm stuck out one of them.  I drove past a field filled with Queen Anne's Lace and four horses grazing in it, wading up to their withers in flowers.  Then I parked in the driveway and went out to get the mail while The Shortlings went inside.  I could hear the cicadas and the frogs and I looked up at the tree tops slightly moving in the breeze while I stood in the middle of the street with my head pointed skyward, looking like a crazy person to any of our neighbors should they happen to glance out the window.  There was nothing special about this evening to make it better or worse than any one of a dozen evenings over the last month.  And then I noticed it again.  It was only a tiny flicker of contentment, but it was there.  And that counts.

I think I can see the light.

For those I know who didn't make it through.