For a long time after Eliza died, I didn't make plans. There was nothing I wanted to do, and no energy for doing anything anyway. I went back to work on a part-time basis (which was the most I could handle) and that was the only place I went. David and I ran errands together, neither of us having the strength to handle grocery shopping on our own. I went to therapy on a weekly basis, and for months, that was the extent of my socialization. Occasionally, a friend would convince me to go to dinner or coffee. The days I didn't work, I often stayed in bed, crying, using my computer as a lifeline to connect with other bereaved parents. I can't even capture the misery of those days.
I think it took fourteen months before I started to feel anything like what I could really call "better." I was able to start functioning long before that, of course. I taught a summer class. We traveled to Vancouver. I got (a little) better about seeing friends. My therapist convinced me that healing massages were in my best interest (and she was right). I even landed my first full-time job post-grad school.
But it took a very long time before I wanted to write things in on our calendar, before I was willing to make plans in advance--especially plans to do anything "fun." After getting so cruelly and violently duped by the universe, making plans felt like an invitation for disaster. We turned down invitations, or explained to friends we'd have to make the call at game-time rather than RSVPing in advance. Our calendar remained pretty empty for a long time, until it finally got filled with doctor appointments.
In recent months, we've gotten really busy again, like the old days, and I look at the way our spring weekends have already started filling up and I can hardly believe we've gotten brave enough to make plans again, that I've gotten to a place where I look forward to things to come without worry constantly that something terrible will cause everything to go wrong.
We've spent the last two days at home with Zuzu battling a wicked ear infection and correspondingly spectacular mood swings. My usually-independent toddler has wanted to be carried everywhere (except after pooping, at which point she suddenly had the energy to run away from me--WHY????). So I thought it might do me good to think about all the things we have to look forward to as the calendar turns from February to March, bringing with it (I hope), the promise of warmer weather and sunshine.
This Friday is the anniversary of my Grandpa Vance's birthday and my family's Annual Gpa V Ice Cream Day, so at some point we'll be celebrating Grandpa Vance by treating Zuzu to ice cream. David and I have also arranged for a babysitter and are going out to dinner with friends. Ice Cream + Dinner Out = The most excitement we have seen in a while. (Unfortunately, I'm serious.)
Next week I'm going to the dentist (most people dread this but I look forward to having my teeth cleaned and polished and visiting with my super nice dentist whose patients call her Dr. Mary).
I'm also attending a film screening on campus next week of the documentary Gideon's Army. It aired on HBO this summer and is about public defenders and inequalities in the justice system in the deep South. The filmmaker (formerly a lawyer) is coming to campus to speak later in March, so I'm looking forward to attending her talk as well.
My mom is coming up next weekend to spend the start of her spring break with her favorite toddler, and David and I are taking advantage of the free babysitter to attend a trivia night fundraiser for his school.
The weekend after that is KIND OF a BIG DEAL and will require ANOTHER BABYSITTER, as we are going to attend opening weekend of Veronica Mars. I'm going to see if any marshmallow friends want to join us for an afternoon flick. We're going to a matinee (because we're old). There will be popcorn. There will be a post-movie happy-hour rehash (my favorite part of attending a matinee). I will totally be squeezing my belly into my Veronica Mars Official Kickstarter Backer t-shirt. I'm super excited.
Later in the month we have more fun plans--the twenty week ultrasound to give us another peek at Rerun (fingers crossed that we get all good news), a trip back to my hometown, hopefully a visit with my BFF and her daughter, and then Zuzu and I are getting out of town on a little spring break (unfortunately, David's spring break and mine don't line up this year, so this is just a girls' weekend).
I feel so fortunate, not just to have these things to look forward to, but to actually look forward to things again. In Charles Dickens's novel A Tale of Two Cities, the first book of the novel is titled "Recalled to Life." That's basically how I feel. These things are small and simple pleasures--seeing movies, meeting up with friends, going out to dinner. I took them for granted for so long until I lost my taste for them and everything I'd once enjoyed was clouded by grief that made it impossible to feel anything but heartbroken.
My heart is still broken, but it's also still beating, and I'm so grateful for the people who have helped recall me to life--reminding me that life is brutal but it's also beautiful.
This little Miss in particular:
I'm so freaking happy we need a babysitter to go to the movies.