When I can anticipate a grief moment -- a family birthday, our wedding anniversary, the anniversary of Steve's death, receiving his remains (as Jim, Betty and I did last week) -- I often surprise myself with my composure.
And I'm truly not pretending or acting. When I expect a moment or day or series of days to be difficult, and then those moments or day or days happen, I typically remain calm inside and out.
The unexpected moments, though -- they are a different story.
Today they piled one on top of the other.
I woke at 3 a.m. with an awful earache (allergy symptoms are particularly bad for lots of North Texans right now). I was totally capable of getting out of bed for Tylenol and water. But I wanted Steve to do it for me. I cried from the physical pain and the heartache.
I visited my doctor for an annual check-up later this morning. It was the first time I had sat in her waiting room since Steve died. The only other people in the room were a husband, pregnant wife and toddler son. It reminded me of Steve and me. He was by my side for every single prenatal visit in that office when I was pregnant with Cooper. He missed only one when I was pregnant with Katie (and he lamented that missed visit for years later). As I waited for my turn, I wiped away tears.
After the appointment, I visited a dear family at Children's Medical Center. Cole was in a football practice-related accident yesterday and is receiving excellent care at Children's -- the same hospital that employed Steve for nine years.
I hadn't been on the campus in a long time. There was no question that I needed to be there -- wanted to be there -- for Cole's family. I'm glad I had the opportunity to hug his mom and dad and to listen to Kelly describe every mom's nightmare and to smooth Cole's hair while he slept.
But I wasn't prepared for how difficult it would be to park in the garage Steve parked in. To walk the skybridge that he walked every day when he worked at that campus. To walk by other administrator types wearing similar suits and almost identical badges.
Before I drove away to get home in time to pick up Cooper and Katie from school, I sat in the minivan and sobbed.
Too many unexpected grief moments in one day.
Thank God for the unexpected joyful moments. Like Katie choosing cowgirl boots to wear with her bright blue T-shirt and hot pink cropped sweatpants. Like an impromptu morning tea with Liz. Like Julie calling just to check on me.
And like Cooper on the way home from soccer practice tonight. I pointed out the particularly pretty sunset -- orange and pink and purple filling the western sky.
"That's so beautiful not even Leonardo da Vinci could capture its beauty," Cooper said.
(He's learning about da Vinci, by the way, from aforementioned Kelly, his GT teacher at school.)
"The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming."
-- Helen Keller