This afternoon, I was at home making some homemade banana pudding (had to do something with those too-ripe bananas; I still have enough left over for banana bread, too). In the process of making the custard for the pudding, I found I needed both a wire whisk and a mesh strainer, two of Hudson’s favorite utensils to pull out of the drawers and play with. I examined them, remembering that beautiful, curious creature turning them over and over in her hands, putting them in her mouth to see what she might discover about them. I smiled. I didn’t cry.
Then I decided after my last good experience listening to music in the kitchen without her, maybe I’d try it again. Carolina in My Mind came on. These days, I’d usually immediately skip past it, thinking I wouldn’t be able to bear the sadness that would ultimately come as I remembered singing this song to Hudson all the time when she was much younger, rocking her on my shoulder, rubbing her back in the crib, trying to get her to go to sleep. But I steeled myself and hung in there. And it was OK. I sang along. And I smiled. I didn’t cry.
A few songs later, Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work was up. It’s hauntingly beautiful and would easily bring me to tears on a happy day even before Hudson died. Since she died, it has taken on a new meaning for me when I think about all the things we’ll never get to do with our girl. I’ve listened to it only once, on the day I last wrote about it. Anytime since then, when just those first few notes were enough to put me on the floor, I’ve quickly and purposely skipped it. Today, I decided not to. As I listened, I tried to focus not on those words that are saddest for me (Give me these moments back…), but the ones that are most hopeful:
I know you have a little life in you yet.
I know you have a lot of strength left.
I sang along. And I smiled. And then I cried.
So many of you have offered so many welcome words of encouragement these last few days, days that have again been sadder than usual. You have so much confidence and optimism that someday joy will break through this sorrow, that there is light at the end of this very long dark tunnel, that hope remains even on the most desperate of days. And I know you are right. I KNOW you are right, but some days this omnipresent grief just makes it harder than others to remember that.
So on afternoons like this one, when I can see through the grief even for a moment, I grab on. I may not be able to hold on for very long, but I figured I’d seize the chance to write about it while I could. And then maybe tomorrow, when I’m fogged in and grasping again, I can come read this. And I can remember. And I can smile. And maybe cry. But crying through a smile is surely better than just plain crying.