And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

On Monday, back home after a lovely two-week retreat, I was trudging through my usual catch-up errand-running. As I was leaving the bank, I stopped in the little sally port between the outer and inner doors. A woman and her daughter were coming inside from the gray and drizzly parking lot. The daughter, a little Goldilocks who couldn’t have been more than three, got to the door first and struggled with opening it.

“I get it!” she said. “I get it for you, Mama!”

Mama sighed. “Let me get it,” she said. “We don’t have much time. We’re getting wet.” She opened the door the rest of the way.

Undeterred, Goldilocks ran to the next door. “I can do it!” she insisted. “I get the door for you, Mama!”

And the struggle began again. I saw Mama glance at her watch.

Before Mama could reach for this second door, I stepped backwards so I was near where the girl was hanging on the handle and pulling, her feet backing up inch by inch. Her face was lifted toward the ceiling, her eyes squeezed shut, and her pink tongue poked out of the corner of her mouth. She was so mighty. Her cheeks were growing red with her effort.

The door pulled open, but just barely. Not enough to let a person through. Especially a tired Mama.

Because Goldilocks’ eyes were closed, I held my hand up to Mama and smiled. Then carefully, I reached above Goldilocks’ head, caught the door’s edge, and slowly, slowly pulled it back. The little girl hauled on that doorknob the whole way.

“I did it!” she shrieked as I stepped quickly out of the way. “I did it! Go, Mama!”

Mama gave me a weary smile as she walked through. But it was a smile. She patted Goldilocks’ tumbling curls, sparkling with raindrops, as she passed by.

Then Goldilocks turned to me. “I got the door!” she said.

“You sure did!” I said. “And wow, you did a great job!” And I applauded.

That little one burst into a smile so big, the whole little sally port brightened into noon on a sunny summer day. Zap! She was just electric! As she let go of the door and ran in before it closed on her, I heard her announce to the whole room, “I opened the door! I did it! I did a great job!”

I grinned all the way to my car, warmed by Goldilocks’ sunny accomplishment in the middle of this rain-drippy Monday.

On Wednesday, I teach the AllWriters’ Wednesday Afternoon Women Writers’ Workshop. A student emailed me beforehand, reporting a problem with her printer and asking if I could print her pages for her. I did, and when I walked into the room, I set them at her place at the table.

“Thank you,” she said. “You’re the best!”

Like the little Goldilocks cheering, “I did it! I did a great job!”, I answered my student, “Yes, I am!”

And I’m pretty sure my smile was electric too and summer suddenly brightened the AllWriters’ classroom.

Because sometimes, that’s all it takes.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

I do.

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