What’s your happy place? The place you go where you feel at your best, your joy level is at it’s highest and you try to go as often as possible just to meet that need? For me, that place is Central Florida. I know Disney is typically deemed the “happiest place on earth” and though I’d agree, I’d also add the Universal Parks. In general, the whole Central Florida area has my heart and has since I was a small child. For the life of me I can’t understand when people say they don’t like going there! I understand the lines and particularly, the lines and the heat combination BUT if you don’t like that, pick a different time to go when the lines are less intense.
I just got back from a Florida vacation that I’ve been itching to get to for the past three years. I usually go more often but honestly, between TTC and the Zika threat, we haven’t really been anywhere in the past few years. I like hot, beachy weather and everywhere we wanted to go is basically infested with Zika threats. It wasn’t super hot in FL when we first got there but it warmed up as the week went on and I got to rerun some shorts, sandals and tank tops which made me want to do the stanky-leg or something. While away, I had some of the oddest emotions… Talk about rollercoasters! I had some pretty high highs and some seriously low lows.
To be honest, I was both excited and super nervous about going back to FL. It’s been my happy place forever but since losing Jora & Aviva, most things just don’t give me the same kind of joy or pleasure. I was scared about how I would be there and whether I would have the same kind of jubilation upon arrival and throughout the visit. I was scared about bursting into tears when I remembering we planned to bring our daughters with us on our next trip there but instead, I was there no longer pregnant and no babies in our arms. Let’s face it, I was also SUPER scared about being inundated with babies on the lines and in the parks. Disney in particular is baby-central! Everywhere you turn there are cute kids in Mickey or Minnie mouse outfits, princess costumes and posing for pictures with the characters around the parks. That was one of the main reasons we chose to only go to one Disney park. It was a protective measure. I figured because Universal parks have more rides for bigger kids and older people, I’d be cool.
Guess what, some days I just wasn’t. There were still kids and families everywhere… even in Universal. I still had to avert my gaze, shift my position, turn my back, look at the ground, etc. just to avoid seeing someone cradling a baby or the dreaded, having a baby look me dead in my face. Something about a child’s gaze makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable now… still. It’s almost like I can see Jora & Aviva’s eyes (which I didn’t get to see because they were closed) in the eyes of other children and it immediately makes me emotional. Usually babies like me, tend to stare at me and I usually engage them and smile. Now, I’ve got like one of those in me per day. My capacity for engaging with cute kids has been severely limited after the girls and though I want to break out of that, I’m aware that some of that is a protective measure for myself.
Wednesday is the day of the week my girls were born. Aviva at 9:04 pm and Jora at 9:23 pm. I’ve mentioned before that we do a ritual every week for both of the girls that involves lighting candles. I didn’t think of this in advance but Wednesday was the day we went to a Disney park. Bad idea! We had a good time during the day but I found myself doing THE MOST to avoid all the babies being held on the lines. My partner even asked how I was doing and had a moment of sadness thinking about not having our girls in me or in our arms too. We got through the day though and headed back to the villa for our ritual. Guess what? We forgot matches. The electric stove only made the candles smoke as we tried to light them. Y’all, I lost it. I was a wreck the whole evening and in my mind, my girls couldn’t “find” us without the light of their candles. I know that’s irrational but try to understand, this is how grief works. In my mind, the candles are kind of a conduit that invites and allows our girls to find and enter our space easily every Wednesday the same way they came into the world under dim light on 6/7/17. It drove me crazy to feel like I just couldn’t complete the ritual. Ultimately we worked through it but I was devastated and now have this very painful memory in my happy place.
I know for a fact that my relationship with FL has been changed but that’s because I have been changed on a fundamental level. I carry the hurt of their loss with me at all times so everything simply feels different. When I’m happy, it’s a different happy. When I’m sad, it’s a different sad. Something unfamiliar that requires adjustment of my expectations. It made me sad that I wasn’t as happy as I usually am or that I had fleeting moments of happiness rather than a consistent state of euphoria. It truly became the happiest saddest place I’ve ever been. Seeing smiling babies (right now) is the happiest saddest thing for me. Seeing parents cradling cooing infants is the happiest saddest expression of love to me right now. I’m looking forward to the day when the sadness is lessened or as my friend Alyse says, “it’s less worse” than it is now. I don’t have any gem to uplift at this moment but I’m hoping this resonates with some of you and that you know you’re not alone in your feelings. I’m right here with you…