Good friends Sherry, Amily, and Caroline invited me along to Busch Gardens yesterday. It was a great day with wonderful friends—I am, again, so grateful to be surrounded with so much love.
There were tons and tons of toddlers and babies there, many more than I would have thought given that I can’t imagine trying to tote a toddler or baby around an amusement park. (I mean, really, how would that be any fun for me?) There were so many little kids that to a great extent, they finally just blended into the background and I wasn’t struck every time I saw one. For that is how I usually feel now when I see a kid, especially a little girl around Hudson’s age, at the store, in a passing car, or walking down the street. I feel struck.
Even though I would never take a child as little as Hudson to an amusement park, I still keenly felt her absence, especially whenever we passed an Elmo display, t-shirt, doll, or poster, of which there were many. In the few weeks before she died, Hudson had just learned the difference between “Elmo” and “elbow” and we would excitedly go back and forth between the two words, me pointing to her Elmo and then her elbow, her reciting and smiling as she practiced her new skill. If she were not gone, I would have brought her some little Elmo thing home as a gift. How I wished I could.
When Ed and I were alone down at the river house in Belhaven the first few days after Hudson’s memorial service in North Carolina, he spent a lot of time fishing. I fished some, too, but Ed, who grew up fishing all his life, took particular comfort in being that close to the water, in the rhythm of casting his line. It seemed to me that to some extent, he was casting his sorrow with it, to be soaked up by the river, the trees, the birds, the marsh grass. I watched him, so handsome in his fishing hat, sunglasses, and blue windbreaker, reeling in his line, looking like he was born on that dock, and for a fleeting second, I was awash with joy. I pictured him, several years down the road, surrounded by our future children, teaching them how to hold on to the line and let go at just the right time to cast their lures the perfect distance. For just that moment, I knew that our lives would be happy again. For just that moment, I could imagine a future where the pain we feel now, like the little kids at the park, would blend into the background of a lovely day, where it would be part of who we are, but not all of who we are. For just that moment, I was struck. But for just that moment, it felt good.