Julia was supposed to begin the big consequence of being sent home from school if she picked at her skin 6 times today. The protocol is pick or scratch, then redirect. If she is redirected, she is praised. If she refuses redirection, she gets a mark. Six marks and she is sent home. I waited all morning for the phone call. I expected that she would make it until about 10, and when the call didn’t come, I was amazed. And quite excited that Julia may have managed to control herself so well so as to stay in school the entire day. Well, as it turned out, some of the school team members had questions and they decided to postpone for another day. Julia climbed off the bus so proud of her self for staying in school the entire day. I guess we try again tomorrow. She was nervous last night and this morning, and now, we just have to hold on to first day terrors for another day.
I have been remembering last year today because it was such an awful day. I am not completely whole and back to myself, but I am not where I was last year. Thanks goodness for Amy’s available green dinosaur costume last Halloween. Thank goodness that Julia did not want something more individual and did not care about pumpkins. Did we carve one last year? I am at the point where I can look back, further back. Halloween two years ago was so normal, so much like so many other Halloweens from Cheshire’s youth or Julia’s few years at home. Julia was Stella Luna, the bat, and it was cold in Wisconsin. We put on winter coats and we walked around. I can put myself back there. I can feel what it felt like to be so normal. To be three of us. To be just a family as we were. I am still not completely comfortable being the family that we are. For me, there is still something missing. I think it may be that David enjoyed walking the trick or treat route with the girls much more than I did, and now, doing it alone, do it at all, is so lonely. So much not right. I don’t mean that a family must have two parents to be complete. Certainly, if I decided to adopt a child as a single mother, the configuration of our family would be complete. But that was not the configuration, not the plan. And some activities, like trick or treating, make that so apparent to me.
I wonder if being able to look back without the blinding pain of last year is what moving forward is about. I am doing so much for myself right now. I have been doing much for myself since David died but it feels like it has finally taken root. Small things like time for meditation and exercise, selfish things like taking time each day to write, bigger things like the house renovations, self contained projects like complete days devoted to getting ready for halloween or packing up boxes of the kitchen and rearranging pictures for the walls. Is this filling of a day, a week, or a month, is this filling completely and without regard for the opinion of another what life for myself and to an extent by myself will be. I don't want to live alone for the rest of my life but this singular life that I am living, this life to please myself, will this life allow entry to anyone else. Will I grow so selfish, so self-pleasing that I will not recognize the kindred spirit who steps into my path. Will I become like Julia when she does not notice that someone is interested in being her friend?
But these are all silly questions. I have been doing what I must to survive. I have been surviving since I lost David. I do not know of the days of mere survival are finished or whether this is a welcomed respite from the days of grieving. There is no well lit path through this tunnel and I am charged with believing that it has an end that I will come to.
I am only into this journey for two months. Already I wish to be finished. Already I wish to move on. Already I wish the resulting great changes and new life were clearly marked ahead. The deliberate life that I've sworn myself to live will not be easily won. And patience and ardor and perseverance need be my companions.
I wrote a few days ago when Julia wet my bed how I still lacked all resiliency. Two friends begged to contradict and upon re-reading, I see their point. Thank you and yes, I do have, I am growing some resilience. I know for sure that I will need it.
Still and again, I wish that I did not need this journey. I wonder if there will come a time when I embrace this path without the reservation of wishing otherwise. Maybe this is just another way of wondering if there will one day be joy again.
Last evening, we had dinner with our neighbor, Maria. While we were eating, Julia asked where Maria’s husband was. Maria said that she did not have a husband, and Julia followed up with asking whether her husband had died. Maria explained that she had never been married, and together we named people, including Cheshire, that have not been married. Later, at home, Julia asked me about Marcia, and I explained that Marcia’s husband had died when Matthew was a little boy. “Like my Daddy?” Julia asked. When I told her, yes, she asked if Marcia and Matthew were sad about their husband, something that she asks me often. The questions were not the most polite, but I was impressed by how she was putting her world together. And how she thought of Marcia who we don’t see as often as I would like. To some extent, Julia is learning how to generalize a bit. She is also asking questions beyond her immediate sphere of interest.
She loved going from house to house tonight, She loved knowing the rules of Halloween -- only go to houses with lights on. She would have enjoyed going out with another child. Next year, I have to make that happen. Julia did a pretty good job at staying upbeat and polite as she went from door to door. At most places she did not stay longer than was appropriate and did not ask or say many inappropriate things. She did tell a few people to keep their noisy, scary dogs away from her, and she did try and talk to almost everyone who handed out candy. Learning the Halloween protocol, learning any social protocol, is not easy for Julia. She worked on it hard this year. She took my suggestions and practiced.
And she was the best purple, ballerina dinosaur that there ever has been!
And a kitchen note. I posted a few photos of the green walls of the kitchen which was what it looked like as of last Friday. Today, Ed started handing cabinets and building my little wine rack. The sink and the faucet arrived and I went shopping for drawer pulls. Tomorrow, I have to find glass for two of my doors.