While I was still pregnant with Heath, we decided that we would take a great family trip to Disney. Well, I kinda decided, Jimmy hates Disney. I thought it would be great to have a trip after my tough pregnancy to have some fun with the kids.
While Heath was in NICU, I thought, ok, we’ll put it on hold until he’s bigger. We didn’t want to take a preemie through the crowds and germs, so I cancelled our house reservation. That was a whole ordeal, but that’s a story for another day. The day after I cancelled, life shattered into a bazillion little pieces.
Fast-forward to January. The kids were having a rough time (Noah still is) and I had been working a lot. Guess what, Honey? We’re going to Florida. My husband said, “no we’re not. We really can’t afford it.”
So, here’s the thing: “Me and the kids are going to Florida and you can come if you want.” So he came along.
We went. Avery and I had a princess day. Noah and Jimmy spent a day at Disney Quest, playing video games until their brains turned to mush. We went to Magic Kingdom and then Noah and Gram (my amazing mother-in-law) went to Universal. We seemed to have a good time — Ok, we did have a good time.
However, the whole time I felt like there was something off. This is not the trip I imagined or had planned for. It wasn’t until the ride home, with everyone else sleeping while I drove, alone with my thoughts (SCARY, right??), that I figured it out.
I had placed my expectations of this trip WAY too high. I was expecting this trip to solve all our problems. It was supposed to take away the pain of not having Heath with us. It was supposed to distract me from the agonizing grief that sat on my shoulders every day. It was supposed to make Noah forget that his brother didn’t come home from the hospital. It was supposed to make him forget that he had sat next to his grave crying with the rest of us. It was supposed to make me a fun, contented, cheerful parent instead of the sorrowful, bereaved mom that plasters on a smile to make life seem ok for the little people that my world revolves around.
What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be. — I don’t know who said this but they are smarter than I am.
I had the expectation that this trip would fix us. Fix everything that had happened. It would take away the “NICU movie” that plays in my head every night while I’m trying to go to sleep. Instead, I would happily fall asleep to the sound of my children laughing while we spun around on the Mad Hatter’s Teacup ride. It would take away the hurt that I feel when I hear someone else’s newborn cry. It would make me oblivious to the fact that I should be having to take nursing breaks between rides to feed my supposed-to-be 4 month old.
I guess it was stupid of me to have all these assumptions. Honestly, I really should have known better. You can’t erase all that with a few days away from home, even if you are going to “the Happiest Place on Earth.”
But I figured out something else in the silent car between the soft snores of the kids.
I realized that this is how it’s going to be. This is the reality that I have. It sucks — A LOT — but this is it. These are the feelings that we have, all of us. I need to be able to live in the moments that are happening now and stop trying to fix everything and everyone
because I can’t. I can’t take away all their pain, no matter how hard I try. I need to learn to be able to breathe right where I am. I can only enjoy the time we have and stop having
unrealistic desires for a life that isn’t to be. It’s ok to want to do better, but it’s fine that this is where we are right now, now that it’s 137 days since we lost him.
It’s still going to hurt. Literally every second of the day. But that’s where we are. That’s where I am and this is the world that I live in.
Noah recently asked me if I still missed Heath. I answered him, of course, every day. He asked me did I still cry. Yes, every day.
He simply said, yeah, I miss him too.