I remember a Sunday when I was little. My dad decided to take us on a picnic. Before we picked up a bucket of fried chicken for lunch, we stopped at a convenience store and my dad bought us ice cream bars. I ate dessert before dinner in the back of the station wagon. Dad took us to a nearby park by a little stream and duck pond to enjoy the chicken. I remember the weeping willow trees, I remember the excitement of a break from the ordinary, but what I remember most, was how happy I was.
A lot of the memories that stick in my brain are the ones that involve the most joy. Not the most money, not the most fanfare, not even the most time and attention. It is the joy.
Before I put Katie to bed on her birthday, we took a few minutes to play with the ten, pink, helium-filled balloons Daddy brought home for her and placed in her room. She was thrilled to hold a bunch in her hands, and then release them to the ceiling. Again and again, she would watch them go up, up, up. She was happy. I was too.
While I gathered the strings of the balloons together one more time, the hope in my heart was that I would not forget this time with my two-year-old birthday girl. Later, when I went downstairs, I wrote it on my calendar so my brain wouldn't have the chance to forget. I am pretty sure the joy I experienced that night will make sure my heart never will.