The unveiling of Natalie’s tombstone was Sunday at the Hebrew United Cemetery in Waterbury, CT. David and I met Adrienne, Matt, Emilio and Sam early for bagels (I think Waterbury has been the center of my bagel-eating life), then went to the cemetery to meet up with Eric’s brother and sister and cousin. We’d all been to this cemetery many times, for the burials and unveilings of Eric’s parents and an aunt and uncle. But we’d never been there in anything but inclement weather, either so frigid it was painful to stay until all the dirt had been shoveled back into the grave (a mitzvah the Rabbi had excused us from at Natalie’s funeral, saying it was dangerously cold) or so hot retreating to shade was the only sensible thing to do as soon as the service and burial were completed.
But Sunday we had over an hour in the cemetery before the unveiling, so we walked far from the corner where Eric’s parents and Aunt Belle and Uncle Babe are buried, into an expansive and attractive cemetery we hadn’t even known was there. There were tombstones shaped like tree stumps, in a variety of thicknesses and heights, iron-fenced enclosures, and tall hard wood trees filtering sunlight through red and yellow leaves. Lovely.
When the Rabbi arrived and began the ceremony, he started by talking about Natalie’s legacy. “What we all learned from Natalie was to try to be gentler, be kinder, be happier and be friendlier.” Yes, I thought. Exactly.
Because you can decide to be happier. The field of positive psychology is burgeoning and is full of research about how to be happier, including tryng to be happy. Concentrating on the positive aspects of life, celebrating all successes, however small, and focusing on what there is to be grateful for all contribute to a more satisfied state of mind.
When David and I saw the movie “Lincoln” last year, we looked at each other during the scene when Abe turns to Mary and says, “We must try to be happier. We must. Both of us. We’ve been so miserable for so long.” David and I felt like Abe was talking to us.
Want to try being happier? Read about The Habits of Supremely Happy People. “Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to us.” I’m working on that 40% and it’s working.