He had a few tips to make sure you pick the best of the best: don't select days that you may feel obligated to pick (ie: wedding days or the birth of a child); don't get stuck on finding five, if you're able to come up with three you will still be able to learn something; and the day doesn't have to be great from start to finish - maybe there was just a moment, a touch or a kiss. McKernan then suggests to arrange the days in order of their greatness.
Upon beginning, I immediately selected two of my top five days but quickly became stingy with the remaining three spots. I have spent the last couple of days trying to whittle down my top seven days to five; I am sharing them here, in the hopes that writing them will help me identify the bread crumbs along my trail and where they could lead me.
June 12, 1984 - The day my parents were married. It was a gorgeously warm summer day in South Louisiana when my parents were married on a bridge in the middle of a swampy State Park; you could feel the hope for the future in the air and positivity seemed to exuded from each guest. I was finally going to have a real family and would have a father who wanted to be my Daddy. My Great Grandmother, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and family friends all gathered under the shade of the trees to celebrate their union and surround them in our love.
Castaway Cay Day - In 2014 The Smith family went on a Disney Cruise with the family of one of my best friends from college. It was one of those rare days in life that was beautiful from sun up to sun down. I never really understood when I heard the phrase, "Living On Island Time," until this day. We relaxed by the water, played in the sun, and floated in the waves. No thoughts given to our daily lives, we were all living in the moment and it was amazing. This was the first time Cheetah had the chance to spend an entire day at a beach; the moment his feet hit the sand, he was home. He was smiling bigger, playing harder, and laughing louder than I had ever seen - he just came to life. When the day was drawing to a close and our party numbers began to dwindle, as everyone began heading back to the ship, Cheetah and I decided we would stay until the very last moment. We spent the last hour, together, in silence; sitting by the water, listening to the tide roll.
Junior/Senior Rivalry - This is an event that is part of the tradition of Mississippi University for Women, for over one hundred years now. It was the night that I was chosen by a sisterhood of dynamic, strong, and inspirational women to become a pledge of the BlackList Social Club; the top (most well-rounded) thirteen Juniors were selected as pledges. We pledges were brought together for the first time, that night. I was elated to be among the chosen, I knew that these stellar young women would become the sisters I was destined to call mine.
O'ma and O'pa's 50th wedding celebration - This was such a joy-filled day, there was a huge turn out of friends and people whose lives were touched by my grandparents; the outpouring of emotion was outrageous. Their relationship had such simple beginnings but over the years, the lives they built were big and involved more than just their families; they gave so much of themselves to others. The grandchildren performed a special skit that told their love story and celebrated all the change their marriage brought to the world. The entire extended family spent the weekend together, regaling vividly animated stories of our history.
October 29,2016 - A whirlwind trip to Memphis proved to be more than expected, I was coming to town to witness a dear friend marry the love of her life; the night was splendid. The commitment and love the couple expressed for each other was beautifully enhanced by the promises and pledges given to them by their family and friends. As the reception commenced and old college friends assembled, it was as if no time had passed. Bathed in the light of The Levitt Shell, we laughed and danced the night away. I had felt disconnected from myself but that evening I realized that while I have more responsibilities than I did in 1996, I was still Jane and she is great.
Mardi Gras week 2013 - Tarzan and I took Cheetah to Disney World for the first time, it was just perfect. Sharing my favorite place with Cheetah and recounting memories of our Honeymoon with Tarzan fully cemented my connection to this magical place. Watching Cheetah's face light up time and time again allowed me to see the fantasy of the parks, through the eyes of a small child, which was something I hadn't had the chance to experience for myself.
This was a very revealing exercise, I was pleasantly surprised in the number of wonderful days it helped me commemorate. I have since spent time shuffling through photographs, deepening my connection with the gleeful days in my past. However, I am still working on the common denominators and clues that these Top Five/Six Happiest Days of my life have given me; but they are all rooted in great affection, filled with family and friends who compose my inner-most circle.
This year has been one of the best for growth and change, in my nearly 39 years