I went back to work today. Harder than I expected, in some ways, and easier in others. The whole world is different than it was a week ago — and having buried a child, I know from experience that things will get better and less ridiculous, that there will be a new “normal” that feels perfectly fine. At the same time, this is different - because to a certain extent, when we buried Christopher we buried an idea rather than a person. We never knew him, and so there was nothing, really, to miss. But I miss my mom’s smile and her laugh and her squirrelly jitterbug dance, and I miss her arms around me, and I’m so, so sad that I won’t get to send her pictures of the bulbs that she sent me last fall or hand her this burgeoning baby to snuggle. So sad.
There are minutes when I am fine and minutes when I remember the weight of my sister’s shocked voice saying, “Mom died,” when I have to physically stop and shake my head to get my brain around this thing, because what on earth does that mean? That can’t possibly be right.
I am terrified of forgetting what my mother sounded like. I have to redo the floor in my entryway, and I can’t ask her how to do it. I have to be 34 and the mother of a newborn and some people who are seven, and I don’t get to consult about that precise situation (I was really looking forward to that consultation, dammit). At some point, I will have to explain to my youngest daughter that her grandma died just before she was born. I don’t want to do that. But it’s what I have now.
And so this morning I went to work. I cried in the Lowry Tunnel, and I cried when I found a pot of blooming tulips on my desk, and I was not as productive as I really needed to be (though no one is hassling me about it, and I ended up completing some naggy, tasky things that had been sitting on my desk for a while, simply because they did not require very much brain). But also: There is a courtyard outside my library, and in the courtyard is a crabapple tree. I saw birds in that tree, four or five of them (how very poetic if there were five, but I couldn’t really count them), this morning. Crossing the driveway to go to lunch (which, oddly, was one of the more difficult minutes), I heard but couldn’t see some kind of chittering creature in one of the trees by the main building. And I stopped for those things, and I was delighted by them.
Spring is coming. It’s early, and it won’t look like spring for a good long while yet, but it’s going to come. The sun will shine, and the robins will make more robins, and it is okay (if slightly incongruous) to be delighted about that. Those damn bulbs will grow, and they will bloom. This baby will be born. Although this sucks mightily (MIGHTILY), I’m still here. My mother would tell me, “Don’t dwell on it, Christie.” It’s fine to be sad; it’s healthy and right to feel what I feel, for as long as it’s there. But there is no sense in wallowing. She knew I loved her. I don’t have regrets about our relationship, and she showed me always to live life all the way. She called me “exuberant” ever since I was a little girl, and there is no reason for me not to live that.
So yeah, some of these minutes are like lifting bricks. Sometimes there is just sitting still, and sometimes there’s curling up in a ball and weeping. But that isn’t all there is. That isn’t all there is.