The snow that persisted for two months slowly melted over the course of the last week, tangibly lifting the spirits of everyone around me. I walk out my garage door to fetch C.T. from school and directly across the street are moms with new babies, strolling together. They walk the same way I do and it is too late for me to turn around and get into my car instead. I am forced to listen to them commiserate about their babies, about finally getting outdoors. Giddy parents wait for their children in the sunshine, comment about their relief that winter may finally be on its way out. Everyone is smiling. Head cocked, I don't understand how a little nice weather changes the tone of existence for my entire community.
The friendly young grandmother who is about to shoot C.T.'s seven year portraits wants me to step around the counter to see her screen saver. It's her first grandchild, a grandson. He is five months old. I quickly tell her my infant son Zachary died last year and that I'd prefer not to see her photo. She winces in pain (part sympathy, part horror and by observation, with a hint of insult at my refusal to ooh and ahh over her grandchild), whispers a quick I'm so sorry, and we're back to the matter of backdrops and photo props. Photos of little boys with baby brothers, of arms and hands holding toddling walkers, seem to be on every wall surface of the studio.
I walk into the store early on one of the coldest days of the year. I am here to look at fabric and there are probably nine people in the entire store. I feel myself relax a bit, believing there is low likelihood that I'll be faced with explicit triggers. Not particularly thrilled with my selection but knowing that I only have the emotional stamina for endeavors of this nature once in a while, I walk my fabric over to the cutting counter. There is one person ahead of me and she has a cart full of soft nursery fabrics. She proudly tells the store worker about her new grandchild, about all the things she is making and sewing for the baby's room.
I watch House Hunters International because I think it is an escape. The wife talks about what will be suitable for their two young children, and of course, for their baby on the way. They have so many plans for their adventure and everything has got to add up. They keep using the word perfect to describe their expectations for rooms, outdoor space, location, schools for their children. I switch the program off. I can't bear to see how perfectly it all works out for them. I don't want to see their annoyance with the minor compromises they have to make. I don't want to see their new baby thriving alongside them on their international adventure.
I see people all around me, every day, functioning without the burden of child death, certainly without the horror of having lost two children. Without having lost faith in all that this world has to offer. It continues to surprise and disorient me that I have to learn to live with this, alongside so much of not-this. How is it that so many have escaped my reality?