Before going to bed last night I told myself that today would be a positive day. Zoe’s birthday is a joyous occasion–a day to celebrate her entrance into the world. The 22nd is a day to mourn; the 14th a celebration. Obviously I didn’t exactly feel the same way when I woke up this morning. I vacillated between angry and depressed two dozen times between 7 and 830, going from crying to wanting to cursing everyone and everything, back to crying.
But you know what? Today was actually a good day. Tuesday is usually a non-gym day because Carter has music class in the morning and it’s nearly impossible to squeeze both in. But last night I made the decision that as soon as C woke up we’d drive to the gym so I could get a quick but brutal 45 minutes on the elliptical in before heading straight to music class. I knew I would need it. The entire way there I cursed my decision–I should’ve just stayed at home in my pjs, preferably in bed, crying. I even debated dropping Carter off at playcare and then hiding in the handicap bathroom upstairs at the gym and just crying for my 45 minutes instead (sadly, it wouldn’t be the first time I did something like that). But I forced myself to exercise and it was the best decision I could’ve possibly made. Climbing off of that machine, red-faced, out of breath, legs rubbery and sweaty (choosing to go an extra 10 minutes instead of showering–I’m sure the moms at music class really appreciated that decision) I never felt so good. Those endorphins really did their job. I was able to listen to my cool down song twice without crying. After grabbing C, I climbed in the truck and listened to “Three Little Birds” on the way home without crying (but with C bitching the entire 3 minutes–“I want Carter songs. I don’t want Mama songs. I want Carter songs. I don’t like this song.”). I got through music class with the 5 week old baby right next to me without crying. I got through pretty much the rest of the day without tears.
There were a ton of other things that got me through today besides the endorphins. Like the amazing necklace my 323 moms got me. It’s a purple butterfly with Zoe’s name and birthday inscribed on the back, along with three little birds to represent her song. A wonderful heartfelt birthday card with personalized messages from each family was included. Everyone’s texts and comments and messages letting me know they’re thinking of us today. A friend from college is getting married in May and I spent naptime today making plans with two of my other college friends for a mini-reunion that weekend, child-free. It’s the first time I’ve felt truly excited for something in a long time. My bi-weekly chat with my Irish twin just happened to be today and we had a great talk. The weather was gorgeous. Lurch didn’t pee in the house, and if he popped then he ate it so at least I was never the wiser. The kids were good (even if C was a complete asshole since he decided to not nap today). My favorite Girl Scout cookies finally arrived, so I helped myself to a row of Tagalongs (merely because they’re amazing, not because of depression). I made a delicious birthday cake for Zoe, even if it did turn out crumbly, lopsided and ridiculous looking. We released a paper lantern in honor of Zoe’s birthday (which Jeff had the brilliant idea that instead of each of us releasing one, each year we should light the number of years she would be. He’s so brilliant).
It was a good day. It was a fitting way to celebrate Zoe’s birthday. No moping, no crying, no wallowing in self-pity or punching things–just cherishing the things we do have, the things that are going right. It’s not the way that I thought today would go when I woke up this morning, but it’s the way I hope every February 14th is.
My favorite part of the day? When we went outside to light the lantern and J saw a star in the sky. She chanted, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight.” And instead of her usual wish to be a fairy or a princess, she wished that Zoe was still alive and celebrating her birthday with us instead of as an angel.
It’s moments like that.