Everyone has before-and-afters in life. Little did I know, in spring of 2014, my life would be defined by two before-and-afters that occurred in the span of one month.
Two with three means constantly shouting “where’d the third one go?!” Two with three is figuring out who bit whom. Two with three is a connection so deep they don’t know where they end and the others begin.
We live in an age of parenting where want to fix things. We want our children to be happy. Yet when our kids lose a loved one, we cannot fix things for them. We cannot make them better. We can, however, show them how to grieve through our example.
We sat watching tv and sipping wine as I searched for flights for a spring trip.
Could we go to Dublin? We always talked about taking the big girls when they reached the golden ages of 5-9…. Would the flights be outrageous? What about the babies? Could I leave the babies?
I wondered: had I asked too much of her and her sisters? Did I expect her to be bigger than she was? Did I miss things because I was busy with the babies? Did I miss her being a baby?
“Water broke. Need you here,” wrote my sister’s husband, Joe. I stared at my phone, trying to comprehend how so much grief and sadness could be packaged into such small, simple words. How could so few words say so much? How could they completely eviscerate all hope?
It may have taken almost two years, but I can now say it is no longer surreal. What’s more surprising is that there was ever a time when they were NOT part of our family, like all my older girls too. Now, I think to myself: of course you’re here. You were meant to be here all along, just like your big sisters.
Entering our seventh week of summer, I’ve hit the wall. The summer wall. You know how when you are running a marathon, and around mile 21 or so you hit a wall of fatigue (or so I'm told) and you feel like you cannot run one more step?
DO some pre-trip strength training and conditioning. Disney is a strenuous trip. You should prepare for it by strapping all your children and luggage to you and running around your yard. Or, if your gym has a sauna, strap weights to your chest and pace back and forth while you shout, “no this way! We’re going to the Magic Carpets! Stay with us!”
We were in the middle of meat section at Costco when Lucy declared “it smelled like Grandpa.” Which was rather bizarre because, first of all, we were in Costco. Second of all, Lucy was only six when my dad died—did she remember what he smelled like? What did she think he smelled like? As I bent down to pepper her with questions—I smelled it. The familiar scent of Skin Bracer aftershave. It was the same after shave my dad had worn for decades.
While the days at home can be long (sometimes unsufferably long, yes), the soundtracks in my head are now much more upbeat. They’re cheery and bright theme songs. I hear The Good Life by One Republic. We all got our stories but please tell me what there is to complain about… Oh this has gotta be the good life This has gotta be the good life This could really be a good life, good life.
She doesn’t focus on the laundry that isn’t folded, the dishes that need to be done; in fact, she waves those concerns away as she sits and laughs and holds the babies. She focuses on one thing—baby joy. And that sparks such a joy in me. I notice more. I pause. I don’t hurry through the day’s tasks but instead, I stop. I notice. I appreciate. I take the time to enjoy it all. If only for a few minutes, I pause to breathe in the babies’ clean hair. I notice their sturdy little feet, which are now so much bigger.