Last year, walking through the soft, big flakes would have triggered a memory. I would have found myself back on Longwood Ave., stumbling along the slippery sidewalk, Henry heavy in his car seat, the oxygen tank slipping off my shoulder. Yes, a bit of weather could have thrown me back into the full-blown panic of trying to get my baby back to the hospital after being discharged into a massive traffic jam caused by a not so massive snow storm. But yesterday, I just noticed the beauty and sighed at the sight of more fallen lilac bush limbs. Then later in the day, my brain made the connection but I didn't get the emotional punch.
Today we went to our favorite sugar shack. We took Kathleen for the first time last year, and it triggered a flood of memories and missing. This year was different. We ran into friends who have a little boy who was born three days before Henry. We sat together and talked about a mutual friend who is pregnant again. We laughed at their son bestowing kisses on Kathleen. I fed Kathleen; they admonished their son to sit down and eat. It was fun to have breakfast with somebody we know.
Not once did I look at their son and think that Henry should be sitting across from him at the little kids' picnic table. Not once did I have a stab of what should be but isn't.
Later in the day I thought about the fact that their son is Henry's age, a simple fact once would have paralyzed me. I might have cried all the way home or curled into bed with Henry's blanket once we got here. But lately, things haven't been triggers tripping off emotional explosions. Lately, they just make me connect memories, that may be sad but are not as loaded as they used to be. It's a curious thing.
Tomorrow, perhaps, or the next day, the slant of sunlight coming in the window or the scent of moist soil or a paper that got tucked into the wrong box may set me off, leave me clutching the counter top to stand and wipe me out for days. I know I have no power over these triggers. They come unbidden and unsuspected. Right now, the likely candidates aren't hitting me that way.
So for now, for as long as I can, I'll enjoy the fluffy snow and the conversations with the woman who I shared my first big belly days with. I'll watch with a smile as her son plays with my daughter and not bemoan that he doesn't play with my son. I'll enjoy these things as they are today, unmarred by scary memories, unshadowed by what what should have been.