She ruined weddings.
She ruined birthday parties.
She even ruined quiet moments with books and hot chocolate.
She ruined every and any moment in which happiness could be found.
So she decided, once and for all, always to be sad. She liked to be happy, but she didn’t like to ruin happy moments either.
One day, Kara was sitting in the bushes in the deepest darkest corner of her least favorite park, when an old man sat on a bench near her.
Right away, Kara knew he was a nice old man, by the way he walked, the dishevelment of his cardigan, and the grubbiness of his slippers. He also made an agreeable sound, when he finished his struggle to sit.
He sat for a long while, looking out across the grass, which was a patchwork of sunlight and the shadows of trees.
He resettled himself, took a wrapped candy from his pocket, carefully unwrapped it, and gently placed the candy in his mouth. He then smoothed and folded the wrapper, before placing it in his pocket.
He sat for another long while, looking at his hands, one thumb rubbing tiny circles over the nail of the other.
Finally, the old man took out an old, dog eared photograph and, right away, Kara knew, by the way he held it, that it was a perfect picture of his beautiful and deceased wife.
The old man cradled the old photo in his palms. Love radiated from his eyes. Kara saw a smile turn at the corner of his old tired lips, even as a tear formed in one eye, and, despite her best efforts, Kara exploded into rainbows and confetti.
“My goodness, what just happened there?” said the old man, startled out of his reminiscences. When he saw the rainbows and confetti fluttering all around him, after a moment, he smiled and said, “Yes, I do have reason to be happy.”
Once Kara had collected herself, she stood sheepishly at the knee of the old man.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “It made me so happy to see you remember your wife with such fondness. I will be so happy, if I can cherish and be cherished like you just cherished.” She pinched herself hard to make sure she didn’t explode again.
“Please don’t apologize, sweet girl,” replied the old man, smiling from within an old nest of wrinkles. “I want to thank you. I’ve been coming here for months and, until this moment, I never saw how much happiness could and should be experienced in my memories of Trish and our life together. Truly, you’re a gift, child.”
From that day on, Kara never again forced herself to be sad and, whenever people complained that her happiness was too disruptive, she always replied, “You probably didn’t even realize that in this moment you could be happy.”
And you know what? She was always right.