I woke up in a cold sweat on Friday morning. Not because I had endured something that would, directly, haunt my soul and taint my blood for the rest of my life. Not because I was a victim of THE horrific event…but because I was hungover from my husband’s work, Christmas party.
“Let’s turn on the TV and just melt into ‘indiocracy’ for a few minutes before we have to head back home,” I thought.
“Let’s wait until the Tylenol kicks in before we pick up Babyface and re-enter normalcy and our life post-child,” I thought.
We had shut ourselves out of the real world, overnight, for the first time in a year. As far as I was concerned, that hotel room was another dimension where time stood still. As far as I was concerned, my mother would have called or left me a voicemail if Babyface was on her way to the ER. As far as I was concerned, I would turn on the TV and see the likes of Snooki or some infomercial that would make me question whether it was safe to share my credit card number.
Instead, a bomb was dropped in both my heart and my mind. The tiny shards are forever instilled and ready to seep in at any moment. In fact, they do. Unlike a typical shard, they move in and out and I’m just doing my best to keep them at bay.
I have PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, just like every other parent in America. This will sting us. The jellyfish will forever be latched onto us, like an unwanted tattoo…for the rest of our lives. Their sting may become less painful, but they will NEVER go away. We will always wonder, when our babies go to school, whether they’re safe.
I hug my daughter tighter than I ever did. In fact, she has complained on several occasions that I am squeezing too tight. I never want to let go. I love when we’re home alone now, because I KNOW I can do my best to protect her. I’m not counting on her preschool to “do what I would do”.
Yesterday night, Babyface had her first, preschool, Nutcracker performance. It wasn’t postponed, like the other Hollywood premieres. I decided I wouldn’t look at the faces of the children and see one of the unbearable casualties. I decided I would focus on “her moment” and remember that she is still innocent.
She is only four. I haven’t had a conversation with her about THE incident, because I want her to stay innocent for as long as she can. She doesn’t watch much TV and I don’t want her to fear “bad” things….”horrible” things. When the time is right, I’ll discuss the incident with her.
For now, I will tell her that she needs to listen to her teacher, when she’s at school. That she needs to stay quiet, when her teacher tells her to. I have faith in her ability to listen. She’s a good listener because I have taught her that it’s essential in life. Listening to the authority figures that are designated by us, her parents (teachers and grandparents).
A week ago, I was so worried that she would hesitate about being on stage. That she would get stage fright when the seats were filled and the spotlight was flipped on. She’s shy. I hoped that she would feel confident enough, in herself, to at least enter the stage.
Pirouette in the wrong direction. I don’t care. Cause a domino effect of the chorus line and drop them to their feet. Not so great, but I don’t care. Just get out there, listen to the music, move a little and walk off. I just wanted her to get out there and have faith in herself, however it took form.
She was a Flower, dancing to Waltz of the Flowers. She was transformed, far from being a wallflower. She was no longer my shy child, but she had morphed into a ballerina settled into her element. Imperfect, but perfectly full of confidence.
Pre-child, I never knew true pride, but yesterday, I was lost in her performance. And my previous state of mind, consumed by Newtown, had suffered glorious amnesia. I was a child, full of naivety when I watched her. I was consumed by my child and her happiness.
After the last bows were taken and the overhead lights blinded me for a minute, my mother said, “I can’t believe that any person could ever do something like that to such small kids.”
Her statement was innocent. It was reminiscent of the bomb that had exploded in my heart and mind, just a few days prior. The shards pierced both, once again.
I hope that, someday, I will be able to feel “complete” happiness in watching my Babyface shine on stage. I hope that someday, I will be able to hug her without feeling a touch of pain for those who were far less fortunate. I hope that someday, our worry will disappear, but as a parent I know that’s impossible.
The thing I WILL always do: smile through any pain I feel, when she is happy. Kind of hard, because she’s ALWAYS happy, but I will do my best. My survivor’s remorse may live on, but she shouldn’t be a casualty of it. Maybe I’ll even watch the video from time-to-time to revive my amnesia.