The familiar theme song played as I got cozy with Lily, my blanket and tea. V was in bed and I sat down to watch the Friends Reunion. Almost immediately, I felt the emotions brewing, the lump in my throat forming, my heart realizing once again it’s longing for something that will never be. At first, I thought it was nostalgia brought on from the show. Seeing the actors with a bit more wrinkles, many grays and apparently aging also causes bigger lips (Courtney!). It was a bittersweet reminder that despite the laughter and comfort the reruns will always bring on our bad days and our sleepless nights, that show, the actors and yes, even us, each year, get further and further from that time of its prime. Life passes most days inconspicuously, subtlety until you look back and 17 years have passed. Bittersweet. And with that thought, the flood gates opened and the airways felt tight. Lilys head was quickly spotted with tears and the images of our favorite friends became a blur. It was a Kim K ugly cry kinda cry. If only I was sobbing over a lost diamond earring in Bora Bora. But anyway..
In this moment it was the weight once again of my new reality, the weight of the knowledge that no matter how much you look back, life will only ever move forward whether you’re ready or not that got me. And the biggest weight? The month of May. As I began the month with a wonderful christening and a family visit, filled it with birthdays, my first Mother’s Day, graduations, praxis tests, family dinners and a second beautiful baptism, I was going and doing over and over. I was going through the motions. It wasn’t until last Thursday night and a Friday afternoon therapy session that I realized, going through these motions was joyful, exciting, happy and painful, heartbreaking and sad. Again, bittersweet. I’m grateful to share these milestone, beautiful moments with the people I love, so many of whom I have because of Joe. But the person who always made these motions worth going through, he’s not here. Going through the motions was emotionally exhausting. And although my heart was trying to tell me, my mind didn’t want to listen.
I felt guilty acknowledging any “negative”feelings during moments that were such happy, positive ones. I did each day, each event with my smile because there was such a part of me that was happy. But the happy part doesn’t negate or outweigh the hurt. It’s ok to be happy for them and hurt for me. And I struggle with that.
I have a hard time admitting, accepting, that my smile is now different. My smile still comes with the love and silliness it always has. But now the sadness, pain and heartache share equal parts of it. And sometimes, the weight of all the emotions make it crack a bit. And it took a conversation with my therapist to finally admit, it’s ok for it to crack, it’s ok for it to shatter. It’s ok for my smile to make small appearances or none at all some days. It’s a mask, a mirror and an amour. Smiling can be a very exhausting motion.
May has brought some of the more intense highs and lows since losing Joe. It’s forced, or maybe thankfully, allowed me to learn that there will be moments, events and celebrations I can’t do. And that’s ok. Sometimes the motions just can’t be gone through. You can’t drive on autopilot forever. So for the next as many days as life will give me, the only motion I want to make is moving from the couch to the floor to play with V and bringing my cup to my mouth for a variety of necessary beverages.