Monday, February 12, 2007

not just another day

I awoke Friday morning with the distinct awareness, after I gazed with bleary eyes at my alarm clock on the dresser across the room, that it was the very same minute during which Oliver was born exactly a year before. It had been a sunny afternoon in London at Northwick Park Hospital that he was pulled by a team of doctors from the warmth and safety of my belly to the world that would only harbor him for twelve short days. My mother here in Seattle was just waking up when Steve called her to give her the good news. Her morning a year ago was so different from my morning now.

As I lay in bed, watching Steve mill about in the bathroom, I contemplated the past year and what this day meant to me. My eyes remained dry, and that was a good sign I would make it through the day. So I got out of bed and got ready for work alongside Steve, both of us replaying the same memories of events 365 days prior. We hugged silently. Our eyes said enough.

Steve decided to drop me at work rather than having me take the bus, and when we pulled up in front of my building, he grabbed my hand and asked, "Are you sure you don't want to take the day off? I can stay home with you if you don't want to go in."

And then the tears came because I could tell that he wanted me to say yes. He wanted to stay home. He just needed a reason that wasn't himself. I sighed, quelling the longing to stay in bed with him and reminisce about what might have been, "I can't sweetheart. I just can't dwell on it today." Knowing that the day would become a black progression of hours of sadness that would be so much worse than a day at work, I wiped my eyes and kissed him goodbye.

Once in the office, I pressed into action, willing myself to ignore the tears that hung in my throat. And it wasn't until I sent the email to my boss with a request to get off a half hour early and her reply, "that's fine," brought the deluge. I couldn't stop the water pouring from my ducts, nor could I figure out the reason the exchange set me off. I pinched my finger again and again. My boss walked up to my desk and laughed nervously when she saw my tears, "We'll just have to keep you very busy," she said, putting a stack of paper down with a flourish, "So the day will go by just like that." I made a joke about running out of tissues, but the rest of the day I was fine – at top form, actually, which felt good, like I was the boss of my emotions.

After work, Wynn and I went to Fox Sports Grill to meet her brother and fiancĂ©e for Happy Hour. Steve was working late, so he couldn't make it. But I drank three margaritas and toasted my little guy before heading home on the bus bound for Bellevue, a bus driven by a nasty guy in bike shorts who snapped at me both as I stepped on and stepped off. It was probably because I had my cell phone glued to my ear, as I was yet again appealing to the Swine to please be reasonable and not vengeful when it comes to choosing Audrey’s school. Frustration and resentment surged through my every vein and artery. (But my exposition on that will come later.) He didn’t know what the day meant to me and how much pain I was in. He didn’t understand that all I wanted apart from anything else was for him to be genuinely sorry for his responsibility for Audrey missing the birth and short life of her baby brother.

When I finally got home to Steve, it was our peaceful understanding that melted all of the isolation I’d felt all day. Only he knows what this is like. What this day means. My own mother, my own family forgot. They didn’t realize or remember what February 9 signifies. And it hurts so much to realize that his significance to his grandmother was no where near the significance he held for his parents. And I realized that Oliver will have to be memorialized in our hearts, just the two of us, because we are the only ones who can, who will. He’s our little blip in the enormousness of all the seconds of all the hours of all the days the earth has ever been, a blip that will not long be remembered. He didn’t have a chance to have an impact on the world, but the affect of this day will long have an impact on me and on his father.

Happy first birthday, dear Oliver Harry. In my heart you just learned to walk, you’ve cut teeth, you’ve had a haircut, and every day is an adventure of discovery.