It's so easy to forget. How's that for irony? But I do forget. Not that they're gone, but that they were ever alive.
Steve and Sam and I spent a delightful afternoon with my friend Mary and her family (pictures will follow this evening). Mary has a husband named Greg and two beautiful children...Gabi, 4, and Ray, 6 weeks. Mary and I have been "online friends" for four (or five?) years. We went through our first pregnancies, first babies, unemployment, presidential election, relocation, new jobs, and second pregnancies...via email and a message board that we both belong to.
Mary is what my mom calls a kindred spirit. Her easygoing kindness has always been one of the things that attracts me to her. Mary is the kind of person that cares about how to give someone a hand up, rather than a judgmental push back down. She is an amazing poet and her words never cease to amaze me, whether in composition or a brief email. She understands more about the human spirit than just about anyone I have ever met (except maybe another poet friend of mine...hmmm...interesting). She's beautiful and she has the heart to back it all up.
(I'd better stop here before I sound like I'm a crazed stalker who can't stop gushing).
And here's where the irony comes into play. I saw her little baby boy and I wasn't sad (though the sadness would come later). I was surprised. He was so...alive. The whole family was so alive. And it made me realize that we've been walking around with this sort of blanket over us that mutes every sound and dims every color. Steve, Sam, and I haven't really been living. We've been existing.
I won't lie to you (or to Mary, because I know she reads here)...yesterday was a tremendous effort and Steve and I both went home exhausted. We had a good time, please don't get me wrong. But the normally simple act of going out and being with people we like (and who understand about us) was something akin to trudging through molasses. We did it as we do every other thing in our lives, trudging through.
But there they were with all their lightness...all their life. It's been so long since we felt that. We've been grappling with so much death and the resulting grief, that it refreshed our souls to see that life remains...laughter, sleeping babies, excitement, grilled burgers, wine, chatter, breastfeeding mothers, art fairs, playgrounds, overtired children having temper tantrums, hungry babies...it's all still there...somewhere outside of this cover that we have over us.
Being brutally honest...it was startling to see a live baby. He smiled and nursed and cried. It was all too beautiful and I had to turn my eyes away. It was easier to watch our June babies, who have long passed the baby stage, run around the yard (and threaten to beat each other with plastic baseball bats). It didn't require me to lift the cloak and look directly into the light. But being in the presence of that light warmed a part of me that has been cold for what seems like a very long time.
In a quiet moment, I talked to him about something silly and touched his little toes. He pulled his foot away and I was surprised by the movement. He cried and the music of it nearly made me weep. He looked at me so intently, drawing something out of me that I almost forgot was there.
Now I remember the life too. Not just the death.
It's been so long.
Thank you friends. We had a lovely day. Whether you realize it or not, you shared more than a BBQ and a walk in the park with us.