The key to happiness

Seven years ago this weeKey to Happinessk, I moved into My Palace of Peace, with the help of many people, including my dear friend, Eileen. She also rallied her four children to assist, and even the littlest one was helpful and hard working. At the end of the haul-in, Eileen drove her crew to a local restaurant and picked up pizzas for my two children and me to eat for dinner, as if help with moving was not kindness enough.

Eileen and I met through the homeschool support group that I ran. We had been friends for a few years and visited many times, mostly at her house, which was roomier, so more comfortable for the six children we had between us. While the kids were engaged in various activities, often creating artwork, we would talk about homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and many personal topics. We were close enough that my friend had entrusted me with a key to her house, attaching a small tag upon which she had written, “The key to happiness lies within good friends.”

Eileen called me during the week after she and her children had helped me move and left a voice mail offering more assistance the following weekend. Before long, I learned that she had spent part of that day calling all of her favorite people, leaving a message on each one’s answering machine. Her words were upbeat, warm, loving, and promised getting together soon. Shortly after she finished making those calls, my dear friend took her own life.

While Eileen’s friends clearly brought her a lot of happiness, that was not near enough to override the pain she had carried most of her life. She had shared details of unresolved childhood- and later trauma, which continued to weigh heavy in her life. My poor, dear friend had felt there was only one way to make the pain stop. Unfortunately, it also left great swaths of pain in its wake, as family and friends reeled and came together to remember this beautiful and kind person, and try to make sense of what had happened.

These years later, I continue to remember Eileen, her bright, bubbly spirit, and her way of making good things happen by infecting others with her enthusiasm. I still miss her very much. Sometimes, I cry a little, and on occasion, I have a brief flash of survivor guilt, because I am happy now.

Eileen’s note from her house key is on the cork board in my kitchen, a bittersweet reminder of the woman I knew, whose generous heart could not bear the burden it also carried. There can be no replacement for Eileen, but I have gained and held onto many friends since her passing. These are diverse people that I love for a variety of reasons, and all of them make me smile. I am not sure what really is the key to happiness, but good friends certainly can play a major part.

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One Response to The key to happiness

  1. Ann says:

    I’ve stumbled upon this and it is heart-wrenching. I can only imagine what she went through. I, too, suffered for a time over childhood ills, and am familiar with at least one book you mentioned. It was Christ who intervened in my life and has made all the difference in my being completely whole and free. It is terrible that some people are never able to find lasting help for their heartache over sins committed against them. I’m really sorry for this loss in your life but also just for Eileen’s death.

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