Cricket’s birthday was a better one for us than the same day last year. Nora let us know that she’s sent a photobook (first in two years! We’re pretty excited), Ruth sent a picture of him enjoying the gift we sent, and I asked whether I could call and got a thumbs up. She put me on speakerphone, and told me that he had been carrying around the package we sent all week, carrying into the dining room at dinner time and so on. I got to hear him talk a bit, although it was hard to tell what he was saying most of the time (see speakerphone, above).
After I got off the phone, I made dinner. My hands were shaking, and then I started to cry. Happily, when my mother walked into the kitchen, I stopped crying—but I started shaking again.
Both Kit and Joey had a rough day, being fairly empathetic kids; Joey kept giving me hugs, and I made sure that I was warm and affectionate with both of them. The last thing they need is to think that any of this is their fault. No naps were taken, at least in part because I started crying while trying to put Kit down. I wasn’t as much of a mess as this litany makes me sound; mostly I was just sort of spacey and silently upset.
At 10 p.m., Mr. Book and I went out into the backyard, where I made a short speech that went more or less exactly like this:
I miss that kid. And I’m really sorry about what happened. I’m having some trouble expressing my feelings about this stuff, so I’m going to jump into the pool with all my clothes on.
And then I did. It was so cold that it hurt, and I swam out and wrapped a towel around myself and went inside to change my clothes. I know that some people make cakes, and some people attach cards or notes to balloons and let them go, but for me, jumping in a swimming pool at night in December feels like the correct way to observe the occasion. I figure if you do something that is on its face so dumb and feel good about it afterwards, well, maybe it wasn’t so dumb after all. After I changed my clothes, Mr. Book and I sat by the fire and talked about Cricket for awhile—and then we watched some Doctor Who and went to bed.