Last night, sweet Flicker, I dreamt of you. I dreamt of your birth, uneventful, greeting this world smiling with lots of dark hair and light blue eyes like your father. You had a cleft lip in this dream, the only evidence of limb body wall complex which made it into my subconscious. Otherwise you were perfect. Healthy. Alive.
Surprisingly this is the first dream I have had about your birth, which left me in tears upon waking and realizing that it was, in fact, just a dream. This type of dream is what my nightmares are made of; a false happiness lived out in the subconscious that I know is not going to be achieved in the tangible world. As I sit on my porch and write on this peaceful July morning, sweet Flicker, I am sure that you sense the overall unsteadiness I feel driven by my inability to shake the vivid images from last night. In what bizarro world is such a happy dream the source of so much pain?
When I find myself in a state of melancholy like this, I try not to fight it. I know, sweet Flicker, that I am going to have some tough mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights processing whatever trigger put me here in the first place. But I know there will also be bright times within this valley; times where the weight of your diagnosis is temporarily lifted by a joy-filled moment in the present. [dark] A horrible appointment with the NICU doctors where we are reminded of realities of your diagnosis in cold, heartless medical parlance. [light] A light-hearted beach day on Cape Cod with good friends followed by a scoop of the best homemade ginger ice cream I’ve ever had. [dark] Waking up on Mother’s Day knowing that this year I am going to be a mom to a boy in Heaven rather than a boy who can make me a hand-drawn card. [light] Spending Mother’s Day afternoon on Spectacle Island with your father, picnicking, reading and resting on a shaded hill overlooking the Boston harbor. [dark] Canceling our six-year wedding anniversary trip to Paris and Rome, remembering that we talked about starting our family over dinner in Istanbul on our third anniversary. [light] Taking an anniversary day trip to Providence where we people watched in a beautiful park and took in the strange but celebrated Fire Water installation downtown. [dark] [light] [dark] [light] and on and on we go.
When I think about this unpredictable oscillation between dark and light, I visualize myself being drawn back to a narrow line representing the collective average of all of the high joy and high pain moments that knock me off-kilter. Gaining an understanding of what this place of equilibrium feels like in the 12 weeks since we received your diagnosis is what helps to guide my prayers each day. Please God, give me the highs and lows in this day that put me in balance. We have to feel the pain, sweet Flicker. But we must also allow ourselves to feel the joy without any tinges of guilt. We cannot feel bad about seeking out moments to laugh or creating experiences that we know will lift our spirits. They are good for you, for me, for your father, for all of us.
Before I met you, sweet Flicker, my idea of balance was more aligned with the notion of steadiness. That is, not allowing myself to get too low or too high so that I can maintain a somewhat consistent state of general wellbeing. This trait had been one of much ribbing and confusion among those in my family who have never been quick to attach themselves to the concept of moderation. Your YiaYia (my mother) does everything unapologetically BIG – talks, laughs, cooks, loves, projects, exaggerates, misbehaves – it’s what she’s known for and what draws people immediately to her. Let’s just say the apple does not fall far from the tree when analyzing the rest of the family. Consequently my bent toward practicality and boundaries has always been a source of mystery.
But in this new normal living with you, sweet Flicker, steadiness is simply not possible. I also do not think it would be healthy for us to repress the urges to feel the extremes. Our day to day is about living in the present; taking in whatever good, bad, or otherwise greets us in the moment.
Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Amen to that, sweet Flicker, so in this moment of sadness let’s look at some of the good times we’ve had together and try to get back to walking that line.