Tuesday, November 4th.
It is Election Day.
It is my Poppy Don’s 86th birthday.
It is the date when my son was supposed to have his bris, had he not come 4 days before his scheduled C-Section.
But this Tuesday is also an anniversary, and not a good one.
A year ago on the Tuesday of this week I received that first, fateful text from my husband that read, “Are you OK? I am getting a little worried about you. I see the light starting to go out in your eyes.”
And that was the beginning of the worst year of my life; It has been worse than all of my other years combined. And so I was dreading this week, as in some ways I am re-experiencing all of the fear and negative emotions of this day last year, like a victim of PTSD. I have nightmares. A lead weight sits in my chest.
But, it’s funny how life works.
Because it is Election Day, I had both kids home with me today, and because my daughter was a bit under the weather we had no plans. It was nice at times, and hard at others, and sometimes it got to the point where I felt like I was drowning in my anxiety. I thought back to this Tuesday last year. I can remember so many details of the things that were plaguing me then, and thinking about some of the events of that week made me feel physically ill. This is something I have never discussed on here before, but that week I was not only being hurt by the chemicals that began to swirl in scary ways in my mind, but I was being hurt by close friends. I was being made to suffer in agony at my most vulnerable of times. People abandoned me during my lowest point last winter, despite a promise to “be there forever”, and while at the time it was a crushing blow, I now look at it as my greatest blessing. I don’t have to endure the pain of that poison anymore.
I remember it being 11 o’clock in the morning on this Tuesday of last year, and looking down at my phone and seeing that text from my husband and feeling loved, but also feeling scared, because he was right. My light was dimming. The initial high of having a new baby, a baby who was healthy and cute and who nursed well and whom I loved dearly from the start (and the high from my Dilauded Rx) was fading, as I began my slow descent into the abyss.
There are certain dates I remember about the past year that are very significant to me. I remember my son’s birth, of course, and our magical hospital stay. I remember his Bris, and how my girlfriends piled into bed with me as we ate Cronuts that my sister scored from the coveted NYC bakery. I remember Thanksgiving when I sat in the corner, alone and virtually catatonic. And I remember this week.
So, today started off hard. I confided in some of my friends as we messaged throughout the morning, and unsurprisingly I was met with great encouragement and support. But as the day went on, my daughter got sicker and sicker as she appeared to be coming down with some kind of nasty bug. Mommom came over and when I told her about the significance of today, she said, “But look. Look where you are now. You are great now.” And this is something Mommom does. She says that everything is great, whether it is or not. No matter what the ailment, she says “You’ll be fine.” It is her coping mechanism, learned at an early age, and it is something that is sometimes comforting and sometimes frustrating.
I rolled my eyes at her.
“Really?” I asked, as clearly I am still struggling a great deal. Physically I am still dealing with some major issues and emotionally, each day is a new hill to climb. But she assured me by saying, “Look what you’re doing. You want to get out there. You’re doing things with friends and making new friends and making plans. That is better.”
And I didn’t think much of it. But an hour later, my daughter got even worse. She complained that she was freezing cold, refused my offer of toys and cookies and said she just wanted to sleep (she has not taken a single nap in almost 2 years). So she climbed into my bed with me, as she curled up under the covers on my side, and my son curled up on the other, and the three of us slept. Before drifting off, I got an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Being in my bed, snuggled up with my two babies felt like such a blessing. And even though it was under less than desirable circumstances, it felt like home.
When the kids woke up nearly two hours later they immediately reached over my lap for one another and held hands. I only had my iPhone to capture the moment, and the room was dark, so the photo is grainy, but my kids grasped each other, anchoring themselves to one another and to me and anchoring me to reality. Things did feel a bit better.
And we all trekked downstairs, and my daughter needed a blanket and orange juice and the episode of Yo Gabba Gabba about the Doctor and my son needed his afternoon bottle and my dog needed to go outside and I needed to have a snack and call the pediatrician and as I juggled these things, both figuratively and actually literally (at one point I was balancing many things in one arm, including my 26 lb son) I thought, “I am doing this. I am taking care of business. I am taking care of two children and a dog and myself and I know what I am doing.
I’ve got this.”
And then Mommom’s words echoed in my ear.
As much as I feel like I am still in the depths of this thing, this awful thing that happened last year and swallowed me up and spit me out and left me weak and vulnerable and tired,
I am doing it. I am being a mom, and I think I am being a good one. And I realized that my grandmother was right.
So while today started off with a heaviness around it, it has lightened;
even though life circumstances actually got worse throughout the day, my perspective changed.
Like the grainy photograph of my kids holding hands, all of my tools are there,
it just isn’t always easy for me to see them clearly. But life isn’t made of moments captured in perfect lighting with a high resolution camera. It is spontaneous flashes of joy, snapped hastily, but still able to be savored despite their blurriness.
This Fall may be hard for me. It may be difficult me to get through each of the dates that remind me of my roughest times of the last year.
But as long as my kids keep holding hands,
and as long as I keep taking that in,
I think I am going to be OK.
Tuesday, November 4th.