Friday, February 19, 2010

Baby Steps.

I read the other day on a widow's board about a woman's concern that a year and half "out" she was no longer a neat freak, had little care for her appearance, was eating junk food and all she could do was get food on the table for her kids. She was wondering if her current state was something to worry about. What followed were seven to ten posts by women all experiencing the same thing. Any of them could easily have been mine. Recently, along with the usual grief which does not fade, I've been consumed with similar thoughts. (Alan interjection: Neat freak? OK, fine. Not that part. And I'm not eating junk food. But I really just care about what goes into Lily's body.) And although it is not a new problem with me, I now struggle with the push and pull of that horrible feeling of apathy coupled with the desire to reclaim bits of my former life that I miss. Much of me, on an intellectual level, is beginning to yearn for elements of earlier, happier times - whether it's seeing live music, going to a show, visiting a museum or just socializing. But the second I contemplate those, until now, nascent feelings, I slip back into the darkness and am immediately overwhelmed by those thoughts. Much of me is afraid I can't handle it. I have been to restaurants, surrounded by the living, and wanted to weep. I hear music over a speaker and it is overpowering - the thought of live music is absolutely frightening. I'm not sure I can bear it. I'm not sure I can let something so evocative into my soul in a public setting. It is a force to reckon with. As much as I loath my current appearance, there is little motivation to change it. I am inspired in spurts but find myself quickly weighed down with melancholy. Being apathetic over almost everything is staggering for someone who once felt so charged with life.

It is much easier to look at the world through Lily's eyes than mine.

Through her I see all that is good. We look at birds and dogs and trash and dirt and to her, it is all an exploration, a wonder. She is all smiles and she begins every day with an open mind and excitement. She is fearless, or rather, she is unaware of consequence. She nose dives off of the bed or couch, she climbs up things and falls down regularly, often crashing into things first with impressive impact. And usually she's up before I can even check for injury. I love her carefree abandon, adventurous spirit and busy nature. She is a study in motion. She makes saying yes to life look easy, and her enthusiasm is infectious. Unbeknownst to her, she is luring me back into the world. It is odd to feel, as the parent, that I'm the one that needs training wheels - but that is where I am right now. Unsteady on my feet, afraid of more sadness and I still feel in my heart like an animal that is desperately looking for it's lost mate. I know much of Alan is alive and well in our soon to be one-year-old creation and at times I feel as though bits of my soul mate are waddling back and forth in front of me; bag of goldfish in one hand, keys in the other. Just last week when Lily awoke, the first thing she reached for from her crib was a picture of Alan that rests above it. She took the photo in her hands, then placed it in the crib, adjusted it a few times against the rungs and then decided she'd bring it with her while she had her morning drink. Moments like that reassure me that he remains very much a part of our lives. How little she knows how reassuring she is. My pint sized dose of life affirmation coaxing me into the present, drawing me into the future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mosey Girl.

Now that Lily is upright she's a wanderer. She is content with a set of keys or any item found along the way, in one hand, while she moseys around our cramped apartment. She explores every nook, and her route changes depending on the mission. She has become an effective transporter and re designer of all things. Books come off of shelves, shoes are moved to the shelves, shapes go inside of stacking cups, table top items within reach are slowly removed and casually discarded en route to somewhere else, and frequently she heads to the corner behind the bedroom chair where Alan's guitar lives. There she plucks a few strings, walks away for a few seconds and returns to make some more music. And it is music she plays - she plucks very deliberately and listens. This is no ordinary strummer, Lily is channeling her dad yet again. Just when I was envisioning her future as an interior decorator, I imagine her on a stage, guitar in hand and this time she's singing and playing. So many possibilities in a life so new. My favorite daydreams are about Lily's future and the (hopefully) carefree years that lie ahead. My dreams now are all for her, a new reality that I assume comes with parenting.

It never ceases to amaze me when she displays some mannerism or trait that resembles either me or Alan. Her moves are organic and instinctively driven - she bops to music, grabs her shaker for accompaniment, music moves her physically as it does me. She pitter patters quickly when hoping to catch a glimpse of the two kids who live around the corner, she is hungry to socialize with other children - both Alan and I loved making friends but her "aggressive" pursuit of others is all her own. Just yesterday in a store after paying for Lily's new shoes, I turned to find her zeroing in on a two year old boy who she ended up throwing herself on. She was smiling as she stood before him, belly to belly and then she just lunged. Her excitement over slightly older kids is palpable and to see her chase after the ones who live down the hall is beautiful to watch and gut wrenching to witness. How I already wish I could offer her a sister or brother - someone for her to push in a wagon, someone for her to push out of the way, someone with whom she can laugh and play with all day long. A partner in crime, and more family to go around. I want to give her so much and if I can't bring her dad back how I wish I could give her someone else. More for me to love with all my heart. Not an attempt to fill a void, just another step toward the picture that Alan and I had painted in our minds. And they could have each other for the rest of their lives, long after I'm gone.

As we near Lily's first birthday it amazes me to think that this time last year I was waiting for her entrance into the world, my loneliness and grief immeasurable. She kept me alive then just as she does now. I love waking up to her every morning, no matter how early. And when she falls asleep in my arms as she did two nights ago, hands folded across her chest in the exact same position as Alan would sleep, I count my blessings that this beautiful creature who is so busy by day and so still at night has come into my life. There is another person home with me now, who walks the floors that her dad graced and delights in so many curiosities that Alan and I knew she would. It breaks my heart he isn't here to see it - but perhaps he has the best view in the house.