Saturday, October 17, 2009

Moving Forward.

I am going back to work. For the first time in over a year, I'll be rejoining the masses heading to a daily destination, and leaving Lily at home in the hands of a doting grandmother and a nanny who loves her. Despite the watchful eyes on Lily I miss her already and have my own set of anxieties surrounding my return to the position I held for many years until Alan passed away. It will be the same room, same desk, and I will be facing the same photo from our wedding of Alan and me together with my employers, arm in arm, on the happiest day of my life. I know from the occasional part-time days I worked during my pregnancy that the phone will ring and I'll jump inside, thinking for a split second that it's Alan on the other end. My Alan. That was the routine - my employers are also Susan and Alan - so when my Alan called and I couldn't get to the phone in time, my employer would. And I can just hear her calling me from the other room, "It's Alan! Your Alan...". I can hear his deep, rich, soft voice in my mind, "Hi Sus" he'd say, and then he'd maybe suggest getting theater tickets for a show we'd read about, or fill me in on his office's politics or have an idea about where we could meet for drinks or dinner after work. Or perhaps he was planning on cooking that night or he'd fill me in on a doctors appointment. Sometimes it was just to check in. How I miss his reassuring voice and his level headed perspective, his calm balance to my dramatic inclinations. His warmth always brought a smile to my face and my employer never missed telling me that he had called if I had been out. She knew how important he was to me, and there were also many hours spent, waiting to hear back from him if he'd gone to treatment without me. I was, and still am, a worrier, so if too much time lapsed between appointments or calls my heart would race until I heard from him. And there were plenty of calls when I could hear in his voice that something wasn't right - a headache too strong, a dizziness, or a sharp pain - and though he'd play it down, I'd rush home, knowing that in a few hours most likely we'd be in the ER. It wasn't a regular occurrence, but each and every visit was one too many.

I'm getting better at catching myself in those brief moments - whether it's a phone ringing or a silhouette in a window. But the fantasy still remains. Just yesterday I had a daydream where I envisioned telling my Super that Alan was back. Explaining to him that there had been some mistake and that Alan was still here, and he had returned, and he too agreed that there was something wrong with the radiator. It was a fleeting thought, but a wish that resonates. The heat is now back on, with the usual photos of Alan and us arranged lovingly on top.

A woman I spoke to one early morning at the swings said she thought it was harder for the mom who's been with her child for seven or eight months to return to work, than for the mom who's time is up at the typical three months - the thought being that at the seven month mark you've been watching your baby develop and discover and grow in tangible ways. They're well beyond the baby "lump stage" and are evolving before your eyes - so the child you must now leave seems more human, and the connection deeper. And I understand that thought - because every day Lily is closer to crawling, her balance is less off kilter, her mannerisms more calculating. She is waving, feeding herself little Os, chugging from a sippy cup, and connecting mental dots. She knows that cups hold water, Spot isn't in the closet or under the bed - he's in the basket, that people come through the door, that music is fun to move to. She talks to her animals and knows that when she makes noise, she is heard. I find that when I'm not with her and I hear a baby cry, for a second it sounds like Lily. Once again someone is on my mind 24/7, and I'll have to go for hours without seeing her. Most moms do it, and I'm sure - I know - it's no easier for them. Makes me long for Italian hours - long lunches at home and siesta. How nice that would be. But I know I'll handle it, Lily makes everything worthwhile - and when I sit down at my desk next week I'll place her photo right next to the others and look forward to our twilight hour together, before she goes down to bed.

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