Today I took a big step. I joined the YMCA. Before today, only my daughter, Miriam, was a member. She loves the aftercare program and the summer camp and her swimming lessons. She really is at home at the YMCA. And in very good hands.
But today it was time to take the next step for my slow climb to that "new normalcy" the grief experts talk about. I now have my very own membership card. I can walk my cushiony butt onto a treadmill. I can exercise my aging knees on an exercise bike. I can voluntarily lift heavy things in the weight room. But most importantly, I can go in the pool with Miriam.
Other than sitting on the steps, barely waist deep, at her very first swim lesson, I have not been in a pool in nine years. I haven't even been in a bath. My palpable fear of a body of water is so engrained in me, there is simply no way to go back to the way it was before my son, Noah, drowned. When water was pleasurable. And peaceful.
The only direction to go is through it. Through the heart palpitations. Swallowing the giant lumps in my throat.
Through all the visions of accidents that could happen around every corner. I have to keep moving through it even if there is no end in sight. It's a path that never ends.
Just the other day I stood at the bottom of a steep slide on a playground with another mother. As I watched Miriam come down with a fearless shriek, the other mother watched her young son come down the slide imitating Miriam's screams of pure joy. The kids would wait for each other at the bottom and run back up the ladder.
This mother, who I'd just met, started telling me about the anxiety she was feeling at the steepness of this slide and the speed that the kids were flying down it. We had one of those "random Mom moments" and everybody went their own direction on the playground.
I didn't tell her about Noah while we chatted. It just didn't feel right. I hope she has a handle on her fears. It's a heavy load to carry. While I chatted with her, I got to pretend I was a normal mom with normal anxieties. Not a mom with a clear image of the very worst in my head.
So Miriam is starting group lessons today and I will look at the pool schedule for the next Family Swim time. Miriam and I will hold hands as we enter the pool area. She's six. She will have no idea of the thoughts racing in my head. And she will never really understand them until she's a mother herself one day.
But this is what mothers do, isn't it?
We keep moving through it...whatever your "it" is, keep moving through.