Arresting Moments of Happiness

It’s taken me a long time to get here, but this morning, I woke up thinking “I am happy”

Michele Koh Morollo
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readDec 29, 2023


Photo by Szilvia Bass on Unsplash

I woke up at 4:15am this morning needing to pee. My lower back felt stiff and I had pins and needles in my legs. My two cats, Sayang, the big one, and Dusty, the little one, were snuggled up with me — Sayang under my right arm, with half her body and outstretched paws draped over my belly; Dusty, curled up like a ball on top of my thighs, just below my crotch. We had slept like this all night, and I felt like I had two beanbags pinning me to the bed. The cats had their faces pressed up against each other and I could reach down and stroke both their beautiful heads. My husband was fast asleep next to me, snoring gently. Though his skin is now drier and crinklier, I could still see the 28-year-old I had fell madly in love with almost 30 years ago. It was a cold winter morning in Portland and being under the covers, surrounded by these three living, breathing creatures felt wonderful.

My phone was charging on the nightstand, and turning to look at it, I felt connected to my friends — some who lived in the same city and others who lived in different continents; some new, some who I have known since I was a child — who had sent me Merry Christmas text messages the day before. I thought of my parents, my 87-year-old grandma, and my younger sister in sunny Singapore. Knowing they were alive and healthy made me feel safe, at ease, and grateful.

As I lay there with a full bladder and a cramp in my left calf, it dawned on me, “This is happiness. I am happy.”

Then scenes from other times in my life came to me. Me as a teenager, sulking in the back seat of my parents’ car, daydreaming of being on a date with some unavailable mall rat rather than going to dinner with my “boring” mom and dad who didn’t understand me. Sitting in the sunshine on the deck of an ex-boyfriend’s sailboat in Indonesia, wishing the food was better, and that I was with someone other than him. That last awful fight with my husband, where I had — for those few hours when he slept in his car in the rain — accepted the possibility that “us” was over. Phone calls and arguments a long time ago, with different partners, that brought up these same feelings before “us” became a memory. Big family…