The Old Normal

As Odin’s first birthday approaches, I have been trying really hard not to look at last year’s calendar. I’ve been having flashbacks and they are intense and vivid enough without having specific dates to reference. But I caved. I looked. And now I know each of the important dates from last year; the things that happened in our Last Normal Days. I was feeling strong, and wanted to remember the mundane details of Before. (The alpaca festival I went to the day after our anatomy scan before we knew anything was wrong, dinner with a (now) former friend, a dentist appointment, getting Odin’s diagnosis on my mother’s birthday.) I think I’m okay with knowing the specifics because having the days of this month pass without recognizing their weight or remembering something unexpectedly might be worse. Might.

Last year at this time winter was finally melting away like it does every year. I remember wearing some of the more spring-weather-appropriate maternity clothes that had been passed down to me and finally ditching my winter coat. We kept saying that we wanted to go to High Park to see if the cherry blossoms were blooming yet. (They weren’t. Twenty-sixteen was a bad year for them and they didn’t fully blossom that spring like they usually do. The symbolism of this is not lost on me.) We had really great tickets to the Blue Jays Home Opener at the Skydome. And on that same day we had our 20-week anatomy scan and we were going to find out if our little boo boo was a boy or a girl. We were happy.

I think that the start of spring might always be difficult for me now. Considering how nature’s symbol of new life and promise is the mark of the darkest, saddest, time in our lives. I imagine that at the start of spring I will always be reminded, just a little more intensely, of what should have been.

To make matters heavier, there is a woman who sits near me at work who is living the life I had last year. She’s just a regular woman in her second-trimester of pregnancy, making plans and battling fatigue. Her anatomy scan appointment is three days later than mine was last year. I know this because I can hear everything she says. I hear her talking about finding out if her baby is a boy or a girl. I hear her talking about maternity pants. And I die a little bit with each detail.

I know I always sound sad. And that’s because on some level I always am sad and I’m settling in to that reality. For better or worse I’ve been treating this space as a place where I can be honest about how I’m feeling — even if no one reads it. It doesn’t mean I can’t/don’t/won’t also experience joy and happiness, it just means that unless Odin can be alive again I will always be heartbroken and I will always miss him. I am glad it’s spring, though. I’ve missed feeling connected to nature during the long, grey, lifeless cold of winter. I’m trying to look forward to those unexpected moments where a cool breeze or a family of geese reminds me of my little guy. I am ready for those moments with an open heart.

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