"Have you thought about your birthdays yet?", I ask my daughters over lunch. The three of us are sitting at the table. My husband sometimes lunches with us in the wheelchair, but sometimes just on his bed. He has been having a really hard time for several days. Being short of breath is no fun. The feeling of having to avoid choking all day is a ferociously hard job to do. Yet he does it again and again with verve. He turns inward and finds his own way in it. It is admirable to see and experience how strong a person can be when there is the strength and courage to surrender yourself to something. Even though that is not easy.


His moments of happiness are in the moments when I rub his aching back or briefly massage his legs. Skin hunger. It is something I remember from when I worked in nursing home care. People need physical contact. Touching each other is a natural medicine that brings relief. Makes you feel alive and in a different contact with your own body. No longer feeling that you have to fight in surrender, but that there may also be a moment of relief. Purely through skin contact. I see it on his face too. His face softens. It is the moment of being together and experiencing a moment of happiness in BEING for a moment.


"Yes, we have mum," my daughters say. "Since it's really not nice for daddy to be all crowded around here then, we had thought that on our birthday itself we would just spend some time together with you and daddy. Have a nice breakfast together, or just sing a song for our birthday. And after school, we'll take you to the Media Market (this is a Dutch superstore) to pick up our Nintendo Light. We'll know roughly what we've saved up by then and then we can check it out right away and take it with us, of course. According to our besties, the money is very well spent, so we're really looking forward to that!". Inside me, a form of pride glows because in this, they really are being themselves again. Just not making a point of not being able to celebrate their birthday lavishly with their family and friends.... "And what else we had thought of is that we would then go 'on tour' to our grandparents and aunts and uncles on the Wednesday after our birthday, because hey, if they can't join us, we'll just go there, won't we?" How simple it can be. Just making the most of it. I am grateful that we have been given such children. Daughters who are able to live in the moment and follow their own path in it.


We are all capable of experiencing happiness in BEING. Not in what we have materially, what position we have in society, whether we are popular or not. But simply in BEING. It is something that binds us as a family. Feeling that we are alive. In the moment. Happiness is not in things. Happiness is in being yourself. Every moment of every day.