Today, a friend came to visit. I had volunteered in Dr. Olu's ABE class several years ago until she retired and moved back to Nigeria. I showed off Kathleen and we chatted for a bit. As she was getting ready to go, Brian shared the story of Kathleen's name. I lost the thread of the conversation for a moment, but the other woman there, a woman I knew from the same organization but hadn't seen in years, said, "Did your husband say something about a son?" It made sense she did not know. I thought I had emailed Dr. Olu at some point. I thought she had actually met Henry, but I wonder I'm mixing up memories of visiting her at the school after I got married and visiting the school without her there after Henry was born . . . I don't know. So I gave the short version of Henry's story. It is getting easier to tell his story, or it was easier today anyway. No tears. No need to lie down or retreat from the rest of the world for the rest of the day.
I told his story. But I still wish it had a different ending. No matter how good I get at telling it, I'll always wish for a different ending.
Saturday afternoon, Brian and I went for a paddle. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Hot (a dip in the river felt good) and sunny. We worked hard paddling upstream, pausing only briefly to pull out the binoculars to study the bald eagle still in a tree above us. How much easier the return trip was.
We stopped in to change and see the girl before heading out to dinner. Oh, how she smiled to see me. We earned a good dinner: a beer and shrimp on the deck of a local brewery and then dinner at the Sierra Grill, where we had had my birthday dinner. Ribs with blueberry barbecue sauce for him; duck with Thai coconut sauce for me. And we split a peach lambic as part of our dessert. Yum.
It was good to get out, to spend time together, to remember things we love to do and hope to do with kids some day.
Friday, friend had extra tickets to the Green River Festival. I envisioned going with a hot, sticky, fussy, overtired, up-past-her-bedtime baby and it seemed less than appealing. Oh, and it was supposed to rain. Brian wasn't inclined to go. I checked the line-up and saw a number of familiar names (though only one singer I knew well). The friend with the ticket had to come to our town to pick up her tickets and stopped by and I was convinced to go.
And I had a great time. There were three of us and a two-year-old. I didn't until I started writing this realize that it was the three of us who were pregnant together when I had Henry. I did have my bittersweet moments watching the two-year-old dance. These lyrics struck me: "I wanna be ready. I wanna be ready. I wanna be ready when joy comes back to me." The music was infectious and joyful and I let it lift me. I stood outside in the rain on a summer night watching a tethered hot air balloon light up against the darkening sky listening to live music and it felt good. Good to be out. Good to be in it, not, as I felt so long, as if the world were swirling around me. Joy has come back to me. Grief and longing for my boy have not left, but joy is back. Sometimes muddied by sadness, but other times instead sharpened by it.