For the vast majority of the last two years, I can tell you almost exactly what any given Friday looked like for me. After having a cup of coffee and before leaving for work, I mix up a batch of pizza dough. I leave the dough to slowly ferment on the counter while my husband and I go about our business for the day. After work, I grease up a couple of pans and set the dough out for a final rise. That gives us time to watch our chickens or take our dogs for a walk. As it starts to get dark, we assemble and bake our pizzas and settle in with a show or a movie before bed.
Sometimes we use Pizza Friday as an excuse to invite friends over – I can double the recipe and feed a few more very easily. Sometimes we play board games instead of watching TV. But really, the routine looks shockingly similar 9 out of 10 weeks. The rhythm of Friday is so ingrained in our week that we even made it happen when I was actively in labor with Arthur on a Friday night (he came a little after noon the following Saturday). Clearly, we are creatures of habit and take comfort in these things.
Pizza Friday is my favorite weekly tradition, but it’s not the only one. Our habits, the rhythms of our lives, have provided so much safety and comfort over the last few years. Sure there were weeks during our grief and anxiety that we ordered a pizza instead of making one, or we skipped church and our Sunday trip to the farmer’s market. Overwhelmingly, though, having these small routines bring us joy and have helped us cope with the death of our son. One day at a time… and bonus points if that day is a Pizza Friday. At least we know how to find that small pleasure.
Now, we are on the brink of a big change… again.
When we were expecting Arthur last year, we spent time wondering how his arrival would change the rhythms of our lives. We wondered how having a (living) child would change our priorities and desires. Tragically, we never learned how a living child would affect any of these things. Grief and loss were the only things we brought home and they came with their own set of needs. Surviving as bereaved parents is what we currently know how to do, that is our normal.
As we hope that our daughter arrives safely in the next few weeks, I’m again left wondering what our lives will look like with the addition of a living child. Despite the fact that we are not first time parents, we still have so many of the worries and fears of first time parents. How is my life going to change? How is our relationship going to change? How will I meet the needs of a (living) child? What if I’m not good at this? What if it’s really hard?
In addition to all of those universal fears about bringing home a baby, we have another layer of fears about how a living child will impact our grief and the way we tend to the memory of our son.
How will our hearts feel as we learn what it’s like to care for and love a living child? How much more painful will it be when we fully realize what we missed out on with Arthur? How will we manage those waves of grief AND care for a tiny human who will be busy turning the comforting routines of our lives upside down?
Most days, these worries feel small in comparison to the primary concern of whether or not we will be able to bring our daughter home at all. But I’m really happy to say that hope has been a consistent companion as the end draws near, and all of these thoughts about a future with our daughter come along with that hope. I’m trying not to minimize the good or the bad as the feelings come along.
Hopefully, only a few more Pizza Fridays until we can start finding some of the answers to these questions, even the big complicated ones…