In the past month Julia and I have been busy with end of year activities with a veritable whirlwind of end of year pre-school art and music shows, ballet recitals and Julia’s last tee ball game which make the feelings of ending and the passage of time very real. To be surrounded by conclusions and chapters of our lives ending is both freeing and very hard. Taking Julia to preschool every morning I was often reminded that we started at Advent as a family of 3 with the surety that during her time there our family would expand and I would be one of those mothers with their cute baby wearing a monogrammed onesie in a chic little carrier, walking Julia to her class. But then life happened, death happened, and instead of our family growing, our trio became a duo.
We have been active and our days filled with excitement in one form or another but that is not entirely why I have not blogged of late. It is because I’m sad and the force of documenting that valley where I feel like I’m currently residing, which is not much to write about, feels daunting. I feel that I should write about hope and finding silver linings in my grief because I fear that the readers of this small window to my life are thinking, “Yes, we get that you are sad. S-A-D. Katherine, you have written in every various simile, metaphor and personification imaginable that you are sad and mourning. Topic covered. Ad nauseum. ” Perhaps that is my own insecurity because I’ll admit that grief is tiring and draining and leaves me wistful for the young wife and mother I was a little over 14 months ago. I want to find the blessing amidst the rubble, the faith among my doubting but sometimes I’m only looking at rocks and uncertainty and I shy from writing about that. As committed as I feel concerning writing about grief honestly I find myself heavily editing my own feelings and throwing a rosy hue over dark days.
But is that honest? Am I really showing how I’m feeling? I’m not sure that I am. Everyday is not black and I do not cry on a daily basis like I did in the early days following Wesley’s death, but the tears often store up inside of me and tumble out at the most surprising and mundane moments. I am interested in exploring that in the future as I think writing dishonestly about grief and this tumultuous experience is not fair or right to myself or those who are reading here. But today especially was not a black day and that is what I’d like to share right now.
Today is Julia’s birthday, a celebration that started with a birthday party at my grandmother’s beach house lsat weekend and continues through next week when we visit Disney World with a dear friend of mine and her daughter. Like any good party is keeps going and going, but today is her actual birthday, as she will be glad to tell you. Because she is five today and she could not be more thrilled. In fact she was disappointed that she was not exponentially taller or wiser upon waking up this morning. I think she is plenty wise beyond her single-digit years. In the midst of the festivities I recalled that Wesley recorded a video of my first moments with Julia of me talking to her in the delivery room after she was placed in my arms. I promised her that tomorrow I’d show it to her before she drifted off to bed tonight. After her breath steadied I slipped out of her bed and started looking through the videos on the computer searching for the video that Wesley used to tease me about because in the midst of my happy cooing and talking to Julia I turn to the nurse declaring, “My heart is beating really fast…” It used to amuse him that I’m having this tender moment with our newborn daughter and feel like I’m about to have a heart attack with so much love. After I found the gem and bookmarked it for easy finding with Julia tomorrow I noticed there were lots of videos on the computer with dates of 2009 and as I clicked through I was flooded with images of Wesley pushing Julia on the swings as a baby, her chubby hands reaching for him; Julia and Wesley in the beach, jumping in the waves with a huge grin on his face.
My eyes clouded immediately with tears and I felt my chest tighten to see Wesley so vibrant and alive a mere few years before he passed. I thought wildly, “How many more times did he push Julia on the swings? How many times will he never get to do that again? If we had known, would we have stayed at the park 5 minutes; 30 minutes more?” But we did not know. We just lived that moment fully and happily, our laughter and clear voices as our family was growing and we had this beautiful wonderful daughter in our lives. The sun shone brightly on that and many days. I have much to be grateful for and much to have hope about in our lives. I find it is sometimes too painful to recall the times of happiness as they contrast sharply with the days I have now so I just do not think. I say happy and cheerful things, light hearted and glib retorts but those are defensive plays batting away the true pain in my heart. But those tactics get me through the days, weeks and lifetime ahead.
Tonight I think of the Happy Birthdays with Julia that Wesley and I spent together. Staying up late making Olivia pig cupcakes for her 2nd birthday with our fingers covered in pink frosting, dressing up stuffed bunnies for the “Bunnies at the Beach” first birthday party at the beach house. Wesley loved parties and the festivity of it all and reveled in the fun that others had in celebrating another person. I find that joy in Julia and it gives me reason to smile and hope. Because even if he is not here in the flesh, it is the breath of his breath that blew out the five candles on her birthday cake. And that is enough for to get through tonight.