Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hopeless romantic?

These days, something as simple as a phone call to AAA to renew my membership can trigger a tidal wave of emotion.

Yes, it was another one of those calls where I had to remove Mike's name from an account, explain that he died, endure cursory statements of sympathy. But this time it was more than that. This time it was a reminder of Mike, of what kind of person he was, about how good I had it, and how large his loss looms.

Back when we were dating, Mike added me to his AAA account after I had some trouble with my car. He was worried about me breaking down somewhere when he was out of town, which he was a lot in those days. A co-worker couldn't stop gushing when I told her. "Carrie, do you know what this means? This means he loves you. This is more romantic than flowers or candy or jewelry."
I guess I didn't think that way at the time. But I see it now.

You might not think Mike was a hopeless romantic, but in his own way, he was. Sometimes he would just show up with a single flower. Once he brought over "Casablanca." Other times, his gestures were more grand.

The first Christmas we spent together, he got me a framed photo of a beach scene that we had seen in Cape Cod back in August of that year. He snagged a business card on the way out of the little shop in Provincetown, called the owner a few months later and tried to describe the photo. She hooked him up with the local photographer and he ordered the print. It's called "Journey's End." It still hangs in our bedroom.

Another time he got me a pale yellow wooden rocking chair. He had to pick it up from the furniture store, in the winter, in his 2-seater convertible. It was apparently wedged in the passenger seat while he drove to my apartment with the top down in the freezing cold. He attached a note -- it said "To Carrie, From Mike. You rock my world."

Even earlier this year, just days after being released from a nearly three-week stay at the hospital, Mike couldn't let Valentine's Day go without getting me something. He had my mom watch Julia while I was at work one night so he could go to Target. He was barely able to walk. But I had been talking about how excited I was that my favorite Food Network chef, Giada de Laurentiis, had a new line of cookware there. And on Valentine's morning, I woke up to a bright red bag full of Giada goodies.

Oh, I hope he knew how much he swept me off my feet, from those very early days when we couldn't get enough of each other, to most recently when we were in the midst of the everyday, of work and childcare, of house repairs and housework, and even sickness. He still swept me off my feet.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

She's FOUR

My baby girl is four years old today. She is sweet and smart and funny and beautiful. She loves to color and dance and read and eat Oreos. She's incredibly tall and has big brown eyes that will break your heart. She adores Ella and her cousins, her aunties and her nana. She laughs hysterically and can throw a fit like nobody's business.

But she also carries a sadness around with her. She's changed this year. She misses her dada. She still calls him that. She doesn't understand why he's gone or where he went. But I think she knows he's not coming back. Her whole little world has been turned upside down. And she doesn't know what to do about it. She's started biting her lip, so much that she has a scab on her face. And she grinds her teeth. She's nervous. These are her nervous habits. Her doctor said she is grieving.

Even her relationship with me is different. Sometimes I am so wrapped up in my own grieving that I can't bring myself to get up and play with her. I don't feel like being silly. Or baking cookies. Or many of the things we used to do. I don't have the patience for tantrums either. I'm failing miserably at this single-mom thing. It's so much harder than I ever imagined.

My sweet girl, I am praying for a better year for you. I am praying that we can get it together soon. I am praying that I can be a better mama to you, that we can find our own groove together and find our happy again soon. You deserve that and so much more.