Another spark from my writing class through The Momoir Project. A few weeks after I wrote this one - New Beginnings - the assignment was "Going Home". I couldn't think of any other more important going home moment to write about, so I turned that into a continuation of this same day. You can read that one here.
I wake up with butterflies in my stomach, having barely slept. In fact, I haven't really slept for the past week with all the last minute organizing we have been doing. We have had months to prepare, yet somehow it has all been left to the last minute, maybe because we were never sure this day would actually arrive.
I dress my daughter in a new dress and I pay extra attention to my own appearance because I know there will be plenty of photos taken today. I also know that the tears I will shed will leave streaks of makeup on my face so I am careful to look pulled together but not too made up.
We have decided to celebrate the magnitude of this day by stopping for breakfast at our favourite restaurant. As we are leaving the house, my husband sets up the self timer and we take our last photo as a family of three. Looking at the pictures, I am happy to see that the excitement in our eyes is for once outshining the worry and sadness that are normally so evident.
We arrive at the restaurant and quickly review the menu even though we order the same meals each time we come. Like every visit, I show my daughter, now happily colouring her menu, where we sat the first time we brought her here - the table next to the unlit wood stove, with her car seat propped on top. As I turn to look at the new art display on the wall, I can't believe what I am seeing: a local celebrity who is known to love this restaurant too. Every time we come I hope to see him but never have, until now. I think it must be fate that we see him today of all days. I admire his wife and daughter - what a perfect family they are.
Then the realization hits me that people may be looking at the three of us and thinking we too are a perfect family. A beautiful, giggling three year old with her smiling, loving parents. From the outside, I suppose it is a perfect scene because no one can see us on the inside. No one looking at us knows how broken we are and what a toll the past five months have taken on our family. They don't see that despite this morning's happiness, this family's strength has been pushed to its limits.
We finish our meals and then sit quietly looking at each other. "This is it", I think to myself. "Are we ready?" my husband asks, and I give a hesitant nod. I know he is not wondering whether we are ready to leave, rather whether we are ready for what is about to come.
We drive in silence. Tears roll slowly down my cheeks as I look out the window on this quiet Good Friday morning. I am crying for what we have been through, I am crying for the uncertain future we have ahead of us, and I am crying for the joy that is in my heart today. As we walk in to the hospital I wipe my eyes and cheerfully greet the nurses for the last time. Today, 152 days after their birth, we are bringing our premature sons home. Healthy (enough) at last.