|Just awoken from her nap…
I think the birthday party was a success. Though it had a slow start- the birthday girl was still napping when our first guests arrived- things picked up nicely and I hope a good time was had by all. Audrey enjoyed the musician who came and a whole bunch of toddlers paraded with tambourines in a circle through my kitchen and living room. Audrey’s blueberry cake- dropped off by someone I hardly know who said she knew of a good one- was beautiful. As soon as we sang happy birthday, Audrey was right there waiting for her piece yelling a boisterous, “Caaaayke!”
I’ve been up since five am when I woke up this morning and couldn’t sleep worrying that I’d buried you in the wrong place. I’ve been going all day- decorating, changing diapers, feeding, and preparing. I was happy to see Audrey have fun at her party, but I am just a shell of a person right now. I smile, but I am not happy. Everything is over I feel…everything is over.
Today I wore the blue shirt you brought me back from Japan and the lotus earrings you bought me from that little store on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope when we lived there. It hit me in sudden moments throughout the party if I was still – I feel without thinking- the sadness. Sorrow is like a new strand in the braid of our family- it wraps around us all- weaving back and forth- and so it is always there.
I am used to being alone with Audrey after this past year, but now the “would’ve life” runs alongside me all the time. Today you would’ve been filming Audrey with your iPhone like crazy as she danced around in hot pink tutu and crown. You would’ve been clapping your hands in that way you did with your fingers spread out- barely making a sound as I always pointed out. You would’ve been making small talk with the other parents in your charming way. You would’ve been telling them, “I love this guy,” or “She’s so cute,” about their own kids. The three of us would’ve blown out Audrey’s candles together. I think I would’ve wished for a little brother or sister for Audrey. After the guests had left, you would’ve helped me clean up and done any dishes while I sat down and rested. “Did you drink any water?” you would’ve said to me when I told you how tired and weak I felt. You would’ve tuned the wooden ukulele that Audrey got from my parents, and then you would’ve sat playing a few little tunes for Audrey- singing in a sweet and cute voice. I feel absolutely certain of this.
And now that she’s in bed mumbling hopefully happy thoughts- holding both of her stuffed elephant’s hands- because she always wants to hold mine- it’s a new thing that seems to work- now that she’s in bed- you and I would be sighing- “Ah…” We would decompress together and talk about the day and the party. Isn’t that one of the wonderful things about having a partner? After an event, party, occasion- that time when you come back home and get into your comfortable clothes, have a glass of water and just talk. Maybe we would’ve watched a movie on our computer before bed. I think we would’ve. Maybe we would’ve been too tired. Oh, you would’ve put her new play kitchen together and I would’ve watched from the side wondering if you were doing it right.
But since that parallel life does not exist except in my thoughts- what my evening will actually look like will be me sitting here at the computer, crying a bit as I write, straightening up the things from Audrey’s bath, and putting away the stories we just read. It will be quiet and then I will drag the box out of the closet and start to put together the play kitchen by myself. I know she’ll love it.
I miss you Dan. I know you miss us too. I am doing my best. The sorrow is heavy-it’s like my clothes are made of lead. I cannot stand up for very long. I guess I’ll just have to get stronger.