Passing another Sunday

Yesterday Ted and I visited Lake Shrine in the Pacific Palisades.  It is a place that I never knew existed before my childhood/family friend, Stefanie Elkins, emailed me months ago to suggest that I visit.  It is a meditation and spiritual retreat on a beautiful lake, hidden in the hills just above the beach and below the many canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains (Thank you Stefanie - it is just lovely!).

The grounds are so peaceful and it was a beautiful day.  We enjoyed walking around and taking some time to sit quietly in one of the meditation chapels.  As we came around the side of the lake and got a close up view of the water, we saw turtles sunning themselves on the rocks and swimming with gigantic coy fish, just under the surface.  In an instant, my heart felt pierced with the obvious realization that nothing is as lovely without Max and that I would never get to hoist him up over the little railing to look down at the turtles and the fish. I would never talk to him about any other animals or take him anywhere or ever be with him ever again.  It is something I know all of the time but the reality and brutality of it strikes me from out of nowhere sometimes.

Now, excuse this digression but I promise it relates.  Many years ago, at a birthday party for my friend Jessica, this guy got his eyes set on Carmen and spent a good portion of the evening feeding her some of the best lines I have pretty much ever heard.  It was an eighties party, and he was wearing a long fur coat and sunglasses (as I recall).  He would look Carmen up and down slowly, and say things like, "I wanna walk around with you"...."I want to take you to the zoo", again, real slowly.  He was serious.  Another good one was, "I wanna hold your hand".  The simplicity of his desires and his interest in savoring the idea of enjoying the mundane with Carmen was beyond awesome.  We have been laughing about this for nearly ten years.  I bring this up only because honestly, as silly as those things sounded in the context of that guys pick up line, those are exactly the things I want to do with Max.  By now, he'd be toddling....and all I want to do in the whole wide world is walk around with him.  I want to hold his hand....not just have him grab my fingers while I nurse him....I want to actually hold his hand while we walk around together.  When he was born, we bought a family membership to the LA Zoo.  It is practically walking distance from our house and we went there a bunch of times.  By now, we'd be pointing out animals to him and telling him about where they live and what they eat.  I wanna take him to the zoo.

We left Lake Shrine yesterday and decided to drive through and then eat lunch in Topanga Canyon (on our list of places to relocate is on Route 27!)  We pulled off the main road and into a little mini mall to get a sandwich.  Inside, there was a baby about a year and a half old, pushing a chair noisily around the small restaurant.  It was like nails on a chalkboard - and I am talking about seeing the baby walking around...the loud and unbearable noise just compounded the stress and anxiety of the moment.  Ted and I were panicked.  It was so loud.  And the mom just stood there, barely looking at the kid, letting him push and push and push this metal chair along this concrete floor while people tried to enjoy their lunch.  We were giving her the death stare when she caught my glance, looked down at my belly and then gave me another look like, "Oh, you know, kids will be kids!"  I hate her (is that too strong to say?  Because I kind of actually hated this woman).  Moms with children who are pushing the limits always give me that knowing look as if because I am pregnant, I must be on their team in their bringing their kid someplace where the kid is acting out and being ignored.  I am not on their team.  I am probably less on their team than any other non-kid having person in whatever joint we happen to be in.  Ted and I made a quick decision to get the hell out of there.  We turned the corner and found a little bistro - a better choice anyway.  We sat down to eat and barely spoke a word all through lunch.  I started to think about all of the couples Ted and I have seen out to eat over the years who barely talk to each other.  We always comment about how miserable it must be to not have anything to say to the person that you are sitting across from and presumably spending your life with.  Perhaps those people have lost children too?  Or someone/thing else?  Perhaps they had plenty to say, but didn't really need to.  Ted and I don't need to talk to know what we are both thinking.  Sitting there, over lunch, thinking about the beautiful day and the beautiful place we'd just been and crying behind my sunglasses, there was really nothing to say.  We are embarking on a new life with a new little bub without our first one.  My heart breaks again and again.  Missing Maxie more every single day.

4 comments said...

Beautiful Pictures. We always seen couples not talking to each other at a restaurant and talk about it, and now we barely go out and when we do it seems like babies Jaydens age follow us everywhere and I tend to just put my head down and tears come nonstop thru my glasses as well, this just happen saturday.

greg said...

Maxie should be there with you to experience all these things. It's not fair. He should be there with the lake, at lunch, everywhere.

I will say this, if you DO move to Topanga Canyon, Ted's beard will feel instantly at home and should quickly make friends with many similar beards in the same area.

Stefanielkins said...

I am glad that this outing to Lake Shrine for you and Ted was a overall positive although emotional experience...I know it took a lot of will/courage to go.

Susan Ireland said...

I relate to most of this. These days I am not sure if I am missing a nearly 4 year old, or a 6 year old. I find myself wanting to do preschooler things - it is like a life interrupted - but it is getting harder and harder to imagine what Catherine would have been into now. I remember my friend explaining this phenomena to me - it took a lot while for me to really grasp it on my own. She thinks it is like, your head is wired through pregnancy and childbirth etc to be focused on raising an x-old - and then when they suddenly are gone - your subconscious can't quite accept it - and is always looking for them. It makes sense to me as an explanation - but it is so sad, I don't want to believe it.

About the lunch - when we were newly bereaved, John and I would make ourselves go out for posh dinners. We were convinced it would help. So we would sit there in expensive restaurants, holding hands and tearful. On the odd occasion, I would find it too much, and walk outside - and he would pay the bill and follow. I reckon we always looked like a divorcing couple. At least you and Ted only look tired and disinterested! :)

Big hug to you - you are doing so well xx