Finding a burst of energy today- I think because we are expecting a good friend and her family this afternoon- a sense of expectancy really changes things.
It was a busy morning- we somehow wound up piling up every big blanket Audrey has on her playmat- Korea is big on blankets so we have quiet a few from there from my inlaws. She enjoyed dancing around on the blankets. Then, since I’d already braved my out of control closet to get the blankets, I decided to get out our few Christmas decorations. Audrey enjoyed putting our wooden Nativity set out. She actually seemed to remember it from last year which I found unbelievable since she was fifteen months old then.
I took out our stockings- the ones I had specially made by an Etsy seller last year. I’ve already written this story- but yeah- you were in Scandinavia on tour and told me seriously that you kept seeing the words “God Jul” there and that you thought God wanted you to focus more on him and I. Of course, I told you later- and you found out- that means “Merry Christmas” in Danish. But I thought it’d be neat to incorporate into our holiday decor and stumbled upon this Etsy shop that makes burlap stockings with the print “God Jul” on them. I remembered them, so I wasn’t shocked to see them- but what surprised me was seeing four of them- I thought I was going to have another child and knew it’d be hard to get a matching one later, so I just got it. Isn’t there a superstition about this? About not getting baby gifts until you’re further along, etc. Yes, there is. This must be why my life fell apart.
Anyway, I decided to hang up the three stockings to remember you. We will always have three in our family- and that doesn’t change. Because you had an accident does not change the fact that you are my husband- and Audrey’s father.
I also hung up the ribbons I hang up our holiday cards on with miniature clothespins by the entryway. I received our first card yesterday. But it was funny because Audrey must be in tune with my feelings about the holidays- my love of Easter above all holidays right now- because she was most interested in the plastic Easter eggs and her Easter basket that she found in the “holiday” bin I took down to get out the Christmas decorations. I think because she remembered the egg hunt we went on last year as a real memory. In fact, she insisted that we go outside and hide the eggs.
It’s one of those bright, cold days here- but we bundled up, carried out her basket filled with pastel colored plastic eggs and I hid them in the landscaping in the back of our building. I saw our reflection in the glass- me in my long down coat- her in her scarf and hat and coat- holding a large Easter basket- and thought- “Yes, I have truly gone crazy.”
It was fun though.
I ran into a Korean neighbor from down the hall who had a baby boy this past year. We chatted a bit and then he went to get his car- he was pulling it around to pick up his wife and baby. I saw him waiting there when we went back inside. Then, when the elevator got up to our floor- there was his wife- who doesn’t really speak English- with the baby all bundled up in a dark green snowsuit. “Hi, wow- he’s getting so big,” I say. And then as I turn to walk down the hall- just like that…the pain rises up.
That’s how it happens. And I can barely contain it.
I think about how much I miss that- you getting the car or the packages, while I take Audrey or vice-versa- that sense of team work. We were complete opposites on so many levels- but when we had to- we got pretty darn good at that. We had it down for when we’d go out with Audrey in the stroller- “you buckle her in, I’ll put the stroller in the trunk.” Soon we didn’t have to say anything.
Back inside, we hide the eggs one more time in the apartment before I put them back in the holiday bin and we eat some lunch.
I think about how I feel like acting this role. It’s too exhausting to live it- but act it- I can do. Coincidentally, I feel like I saw quite a few movies where a spouse dies this past year- “PS I Love You”- that one while you were away- you wouldn’t have wanted to watch it. And together we saw, “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” You said it got bad reviews- you were always obsessed over movie reviews- but you were pleasantly surprised. I cried watching both of these movies.
But they were movies.
The set design makes the grieving widow “work.” I think that’s why these days when I’m in the city, I feel I can play this role easier- it feels more like a movie walking down a NYC street than here in NJ where I live in a condo built in the 80’s.
There was an interesting point in a Tim Keller sermon I listened to online last night- he was breaking down a verse in which he said, God basically says, “I love you, because I love you.” He gives no reason- because, Keller asserts- if you love someone for a reason- that reason becomes the basis of your love and their identity. As romantic and cliche as it sounds, he says, this is the way to truly love.
This comforted me. For years, I had thought of a conversation I had with a spiritual mentor when I was fresh out of college. I had just met you Dan and I met with her at a diner and told her all about you. “What qualities about him do you love?” she had asked from her side of the booth, squinting her eyes a little bit.
I didn’t know. I could list good things about you- your gentleness, kindness, and many talents- and I think that’s what I told her- but behind my words, I was actually thinking- “Oh, no- I’m not sure why I love him? I just do…maybe that means I’m just physically attracted to him.” I thought of that conversation when we struggled sometimes- that maybe I’d made a mistake- and maybe I hadn’t paid enough attention to the “qualities” I wanted in a man.
But no, that conversation from eleven years ago is put to rest now. I love you Dan, because I love you.