Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life or something like it

I feel like someone just slammed on the breaks and veered right, but my mind is still stuck on the road we were just on trying to catch up. I've been lucky enough in my life to only be able to count the worst days on one hand. Yesterday ranks right up on top.

One year ago tomorrow, my father almost died. Corbin was only six weeks old, had just started colic and was just through his six week growth spurt (insert me bouncing on big red ball in bathroom here). He had a heart attack at the YMCA..no one stopped him from driving home (long story)..and then coded twice in the ER. Once in front of my mother and once in front of both of us, while Richard sat with Corbin in the waiting room. He describes it as all of a sudden being in some unfamiliar place, where he couldn't get his bearings. With something bright and blurry in the distance. He suddenly felt pain and woke up. Three months ago today, I took Corbin to Levine's Children's Hospital. I had to hold a mask on his face and watch him scream as he went limp. And yesterday...I buried a great friend. These are the worst days of my life. Just three and by chance...all within the same year (yes...we bought a lottery ticket for Wed night in hopes of ending the year on a really high note!). I miss being sheltered, I miss feeling invincible, and some days I miss those five seconds when you wake up...before you remember the troubles from the day before.

Most people, including me, wish these days would never come. Don't know what to say or do when the loss comes with the love. When the happy ending seems too far off in the distance. When your "normal" transforms one more time. But if those times never came, what would balance out the incredibly happy times? Five years ago last Friday, Feb. 13...Richard and I went on our first date. What was he thinking ;) I had said no when he asked, but at the last minute called and agreed to go "just as friends". He picked me up and we went to PF Chang's for dinner. I insisted on paying for myself...adamantly. Poor guy! After having a few drinks at the bar, they took us to this two person booth in a corner. By the end of the night, we were both talking and laughing so hard that neither of us realized that we were the only ones left in the restaurant and they had put all the chairs around us up on the tables. The next day, I told my mother that he was the man that I was going to marry. Every time we go to that restaurant, he still points out "our booth". And just four years ago this Sunday...we got engaged. He had a limo pick us up from my apartment (I had never been in a limo before) and take us to PF Chang's. We didn't get "our booth", but we did have the lettuce wraps..yuummmmmm-O! Then the limo took us to an empty lot with just a sold sign on it. Although, it would have been awesome if I didn't..but I already knew about the house ;) I'm sure our neighbors were like..what the hell! He got down on one knee and said...I wanted to ask you this where we are going to start our lives together...it was perfect!

It's so funny how life balances out. How we experience the high highs and the low lows. How fast one can come right after the other. Corbin started walking a few weeks ago. He hadn't really got it down until just recently. I was getting dressed yesterday morning and he woke up. I was trying to be fast so we wouldn't be late, so I changed his diaper and left him in his room to play. I could hear him looking for me, so I called to him that I was in my room. And right on cue..here came Corbin, not crawling as I expected, but on his two little legs, grinning from ear to ear...as if to say "look at me"!! He walked over to me, put his arms up, and gave me a big hug as I made a fuss about what a big boy he was. It was incredible.

I know that the low lows are here to remind us not to take those instants for granted. Not to miss the little light that shines through in our darkest moments. To stop and appreciate the smile of my son learning how to be just a little more independent. I know that, but I also know that you don't live each day to the fullest by doing grand, extravagant things. By taking big vacations, buying yourself something nice, by going bungee jumping....like I would ever do that anyway ;) If you knew it was your last day, what would you do? That's usually what people say in times like these....but in all honesty, I would get up each day, tell my husband I loved him, hug my son when he falls down. I would tell my friends that I can't wait to see them and plan dinner parties to make sure we don't lose touch. I would call my mom almost (ha ha) everyday and email Richard's mom. I would text message my sister (because we are sooo Gen Y..no wait..I am..she's not) and call Auntie Mimi on Skype. These are the things I would do because it is how my life is the fullest. Life doesn't give you a chance to stop and "live"....you just do it. The last thing I ever said to Karen was that I couldn't wait to see her this weekend. She passed away two days later. Life gives you opportunities to make your life full..you just have to take them. I believe that when I hit a low, life is reminding me to never have regrets, never second guess, and to live each moment. Just live it. It's not about changing what you would do on that last day, it's about not needing to.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I lost a very dear friend on Thursday, Karen Byrd. You have no idea how much it pains me to even type that sentence. She was my first friend in Charlotte and has been there through all the monumental events in my life. She was who I turned to the day Richard walked into the bar...I said there was no way I would ever date him (sorry babe, I was wrong..and she always reminded me of this), she is who I called when we got engaged, who I broke it down with on the dance floor at our wedding, she went to see Knocked Up with me the day after I found out I was pregnant (yes, I hyperventilated in the parking lot afterwards...she told me I would be an amazing mother), and she came to meet Corbin the day after he was born. I should get to do the same for her. 

At the risk of sounding crazy...Corbin and I were playing outside on Friday morning. It was beautiful out and the sky was completely clear. For some reason, I looked up and saw this single bird circling over the house we were in front of. It followed us down the street and circled over head, moving slowly as Corbin pushed his car. I couldn't take my eyes off it. Finally, I picked Corbin up and pointed out the bird to him. As soon as I did this, the bird began to fly away. We walked up the street to where the houses were not blocking our view and watched it fly off..never once stopping to circle anything else. We stayed there for as long as we could see the small black image disappear into the distance. This moment was so comforting to me, so peaceful. I will never forget that instant. That small black "Byrd".

Words can not describe her. She was what everyone should be..simple. Simply kind, simply generous, simply Karen. She has changed me into a better person, kept me grounded during my (many) psychotic moments and I am eternally grateful that I was privileged enough to have her in my life for the past 5 years. I pray that the grief her family feels now will lessen with each passing day and that the imprint she left on this world will be as deep as the one she left on me.