As I think about happiness, of course I think a lot about my sister and her recent diagnosis of diabetes.
My sister’s diagnosis came at an absolutely crazy time: in the space of ONE DAY (really, in the space of five hours), she got engaged, made an offer on a house with her fiancé, and was diagnosed with diabetes Type 1—and then had to go back to the set of The Shield, where they were shooting her script. In the same month, her book Bass-Ackwards and Belly Up came out, and my mother came for a visit.
Getting engaged was a tremendous source of happiness, of course—she’s marrying a terrific guy, who gets huge credit for being the one who pushed her to get to a doctor when she wasn’t feeling well, and who has been a tremendous source of support during this whole process.
But happy as it is, getting engaged is stressful. Immediately, the questions start: Where will the wedding be held? What’s the date? What kind of wedding do you want? My sister isn’t the type who’s been planning her wedding for her whole life, so she had a lot of decisions to make.
And making a bid on a house—the negotiations, the arguments about who will fix what, and of course, the enormous amount of money involved, make it very stressful. And then, they got the house! That means deciding on paint colors, options for wood floors, and all the rest.
I can’t tell whether getting the diabetes diagnosis in the midst of these happy (if stressful) distractions has made it harder or easier for my sister. It’s nice that she has happy things to think about. But I worry that the anxiety about the diabetes has clouded a joyous time.
So what can I do for her? I can’t help her with the diabetes, and I can’t help her fix up her new house, but I can help with her upcoming move. I think it’s fair to say that I got her share, as well as my share, of the clearing-clutter genes. She is…shall we say…a bit challenged in that area. So my plan now is to help her by going out to L.A. to help her get organized before she moves into the new house.
The last time she moved, I came out to help her pack, and in the process, we tossed or gave away about 30% of her possessions. (One example: I discovered a laundry bag in a closet that contained mostly unopened mail that she’d shipped from New York when she’d moved to L.A. six years before.) She’s likely due for another clearance.
I remember our conversation just before I left for the airport at the end of that visit. She was slumped on the couch, exhausted, a bottle of Diet Coke held limply in her hand.
“You’re glad to see me go!” I said.
“But I’m so glad you came,” she said sincerely.
Clearing clutter, I can do. So that’s what I’ll do.