It happened when I dived into the pool in Hopefield one morning; I used to go swim with Ilze in the mornings. I’m not much of a morning person, but that morning, as billions of tiny bubbles slid past my face in the somewhat green water – a smile burst out onto my face. No one was there to see it, Ilze was swimming, and nobody else was there. And I realized I smiled for no one, but me. That’s when it hit me: it’s because I’m happy. And from then on, I’ve been gathering happinesses – registering when exactly I smile, for no one but me, involuntarily, for that I think, is my happiness indicator.
And so I tried to become consciously aware of that involuntary smile: My first cup of morning-coffee; Louis and Skye arriving home from school; their faces when they’re sleeping; when they’re happy; when I take photos (even just thinking about it, because I just smiled;) brushing my teeth, the smell of wildflowers and rain and sunlight on my face and the chirping birdies … and many many more. Over the months I have been gathering happinesses, and I really needed these, a few months back, when we went through the cancer ordeal with Tinus. I could use my happiness triggers to give me moments where I smiled.
Marie-Louise and I were sitting on the stoep at the River Cottage talking about this when we saw two white-tipped Basset tails wag through the reeds next to the river – Brigid and Brandon, our two dogs! And I smiled. I ran down to call them. Brigid looked up at me across the clumps of brilliant green grass, and I am quite prepared to swear that she was smiling as well. She had this look of utter adoration, happiness and joy and everything in her said: “I found you!”
The puppies (as we call them – they will be two years old at the end of December) were taken care of by Eugenie and later by Marie-Louise, John and Cous cous while we were trying to organize our lives. Finally with visas and import permits organized, vet papers signed and delivered the long wait was over – they flew into Dubai and we could fetch them from the air port. We were overjoyed and the puppies settled in quickly. They became house dogs – with boundaries - but they still prefer to spend most of their time outside.
One Saturday morning, about two weeks after we fetched them, Tinus and I were sitting outside with the puppies having a slow morning, each with a book and a cup of coffee. It was a perfect morning, not too hot yet, birdies chirping happily in the trees when Brigid got up, took a few unsteady steps toward me and started convulsing. My heart!! It was dreadful, I held her until the attack was over and then we franticly called every vet and pet shop we found listed to find someone open on a Saturday. Eventually we located a vet in Jumeira. By the time Brigid arrived at the vet she was back to her old loveable self, charming and licking her way into every heart around.
The vet said it was quite possibly an epileptic seizure, I never knew dogs get these – it seems that there are a number of breeds who do. He said it could just be an isolated case but if it continues it can be controlled effectively with medication. I have such sympathy for parents whose children suffer from epilepsy, it was terrible to see her so helpless, and feeling so completely helpless myself. It hasn’t happened again, I hope this is an isolated case.
My happinesses are happy to be with us and we are so happy to have them here, we just need the last member of our little family to join us. We miss you Tanzanite and hope you’ll be joining us soon.