March 23, 2011, turned out to be a surprisingly good day. Despite my anxious anticipation and my wish above all else to turn into a bear and hibernate until it was over, I walked through the day full of life and even bits of joy.
Ironic, I know.
Casey spent the day with me, and she brought along her almost 5 month old, Caitlyn. She's the youngest of 3 girls, all cute as a button. Caitlyn was just what I needed; her smile lights up even the saddest of faces. Casey was actually at the doctor's office this time last year getting her first pictures of this daughter in her womb when I called to share with her the news that Tony died.
Even more ironic. Yet, so very hopeful for my heart.
Funny thing, Caitlyn is one of 7 babies born this year out of our wedding party. Three of my bridesmaids and 4 of Tony's groomsmen have brought new life into the world since Tony left it.
The irony of life and death all wrapped into a single year. Hope.
Casey and I spent the day shopping. Yes, shopping. I admit that retail therapy can be my weakness. But this day was more about just doing whatever it took to make it through "still standing," and it was quite enjoyable for myself and my dear friend who knows me better than anyone.
We returned to my place where she cooked dinner for a few of my sweet girlfriends who came over to hang with me that evening. At the very hour that Tony actually fell from Stone Mountain last year, I was hosting a dinner party with my friends.
Ironic, yes. Unexpected, yes.
Yet, I chose not to feel guilty about it. It in no way diminishes the love I have for Tony and the magnitude of loss I feel without him in my life. I just know that he would rather me celebrate life, not focusing on his death, and certainly not reliving the way that he died. As my counselor reminded me, I lived that nightmare once, I don't have to relive it.
We ended our evening with the debut of my very favorite invention...a cotton candy machine. Yes, I did say, a cotton candy machine. I asked for one this Christmas and half jokingly, my parents bought it for me. I mean, what else do you give this grieving daughter who didn't even want any presents at all?
My face lit up as particles of cotton candy swirled around my dining room. My friends just went along with the fun, trying the many concoctions of flavors I created. It was fun. It was perfect.
It was a celebration that I have survived this tragic year. It is hope that I'm going to be okay.
And if Tony could smile down on me, I know that he would. And his health-nut self would even try my cotton candy just to humor me.
Dearly loved, cotton candy fan,