I went to grab a napkin from the kitchen and my pizza fell on the floor. Upside-down, of course, the sauce soaking into the carpet, the toppings picking up the hair that can never really be cleaned away when two people with long hair occupy a house.
The kids and Rich tried to lighten the mood that came over me, but I had no sense of humor about it. I snapped at them, and went about the business of scraping the toppings and sauce back onto the crust, feeling like everything bad always happened to me. I couldn’t even enjoy my damn pizza without it falling apart. It was a bit fatalistic and certainly not an appropriate response to over turned pizza.
It’s been almost a year since Elliott’s death, and the “I’m fine” is starting to give.
I feel myself slipping more often. I want to be better, in many regards I am better, but as June approaches, I don’t feel better at all. My ability to regulate my mood has been going steadily downhill since Mother’s Day.
I don’t spend all of every day in a malaise, but when it strikes, it is complete, like the summer thunderstorms that roll in quickly, crashing with lightning and pouring rain down with almost no warning. I don’t just tear up, I sob. I don’t just feel small pangs of jealousy when I see a baby who would be about Elliott’s age, they are sharp barbs. I don’t just have a sense of injustice, I feel cheated and betrayed.
That afternoon, I looked into the mess on my plate, the stain on the floor, and I wanted to wail. I wanted the sackcloth and ashes. I wanted everyone to feel as bad as I felt so they could understand.
But the people that I love who are here do understand, and they need me. They don’t need me to deny my sorrow, but in the midst of it, to recognize their humanity. To remember that my pain, while completely valid, is still only a part of what is happening around me.
There is pain, yes. But there are water gun battles to be waged, and homemade ice cream to be savored. There is still binge-watching Cinemasins videos while cuddling on the couch. There are still mornings to be marveled at from my porch, mug of coffee in hand. There are still nights to be spent wrapped in my beloved’s arms before we drift off to sleep while he whispers a reminder, “It’s a good life.”
I’m not fine right now. I am keenly aware of the things that I have missed in the past year. I missed the luxury of planting kisses on a soft baby belly. I missed the smell of the top of a baby’s head right after a bath. I missed nursing my child at my breast and watching him drift off to sleep. I missed hearing babbling, watching first steps, learning his new personality.
But even in the midst of my sorrow, there is hope. Even in the midst of my sorrow, there is beauty. Even in the midst of my sorrow, there is joy.
Because even in the midst of my sorrow, I know that it’s a good life.