It was Stan, my husband's best friend from high school. Although we have never met in person, I had heard about Stan for years: how Stan, a star athlete and leading member of the school's popular crowd, befriended Bob when he came to the school as a shy and uncertain new junior; how Stan helped him to get a memorable summer job at a camp for blind children where they both worked during college; how Stan offered him shelter and support when Bob's father threw him out of the house because he was working at the camp instead of at a higher paying summer job.
In the busy times of young adulthood after college, they lost touch with each other for many years, happily reuniting via Facebook when both were over 65. Now they call each other several times a week -- Stan from his home in Central California or Bob from our home in Arizona.
Bob has offered support during Stan's recent orthopedic surgeries and Stan has offered his unfailing optimism to Bob who battles cyclical depressions.
"Just a minute!" I told Stan. "Bob is right here."
"Wait!" Stan cried. "I was calling you. I heard a saying the other day that really meant a lot to me and I think you'd like it, too."
"Oh," I said, a little surprised. "What is it?"
"Those who expect happiness only from sunshine have never danced in the rain."
I smiled at the saying. Stan was right. I was intrigued.
It seemed to me to be about the possibility of finding joy in all seasons -- all seasons of the year, all the seasons of one's life.
It seemed to be about the joy and the pain that are part of all our lives and how our bittersweet experiences give us greater hope in the dark times and greater appreciation for the sunshine in our lives.
It seemed to be about finding joy amidst sorrow, those moments of levity that make us stronger for the next wave of pain.
It seemed to be about re-discovering hope and happiness after a painful life transition.
It seemed to be about experiencing life fully and joyfully every day of our lives.
I thought about the ebb and flow of happiness in my own life -- of times when happiness was an elusive major expectation and of times when it caught me by surprise.
I thought about what I knew of Stan's life experiences -- the career challenges, the devastating losses, the disappointments, the dreams that didn't come true -- and I suddenly understood much better this spirit suffused with joy, even when days are dark and the forecast is unrelentingly stormy.
This is a man who knows all about dancing in the rain.