On July 4, 2011, Henry's due date, Becky and I watched the fireworks from amid a crowd of happy, singing, slightly drunk people at Alamo Square Park. We wrapped ourselves in blankets to block the chilly wind and ate pound cake with berries and homemade whipped cream in the dark. Becky let me talk through my disappointment that Chris wasn't there with us, and I was able to put into words my hopes for this special July 4th. I wasn't expecting Henry to be born that day, but I had definitely envisioned doing fun holiday-ish things with Chris and Becky, and making some special memories with Chris—our last holiday as a family of two. I imagined the events of that day becoming a sweet story I told Henry over and over again when he got old enough to want to hear it.
But Chris hadn't slept well the night before and was really tired (and, he will admit, a bit grumpy), and the place I wanted to get burgers from was closed, and we never made it to the park for a picnic lunch, and Chris opted to stay home and sleep instead of watching the fireworks that night. I was emotional and disappointed, and I had been snippy and frustrated with Chris. I played the whole “I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in eight months so suck it up” card, and I felt superior and right but still sad.
I find myself thinking about that day often. My life with Chris has plenty of disappointing days with snide remarks and short tempers and not enough communication—and it’s still a wonderful, amazing life. This is just life. We have “perfect” times, and we have disappointing times, and it’s all life, and I’m thankful for it. I’m thankful for the memory of that Fourth of July, when Henry was inside me, and we knew his name but were keeping it a secret, and I watched fireworks in San Francisco in a park near our house, and I talked with my sister Becky as we shivered under our blankets. I’m thankful that I don’t even need to remember whether Chris and I made up that night or the next day—I just know it happened, because we always make up.
Talking it through with Becky that night was therapeutic. I realized I did have a story to tell Henry—just not the one I thought I’d have. This one would be less like an award-winning children’s book and more like the kind of story your parents tell you while you’re crying because things didn’t go your way.
I’ll save the picture-perfect tales for the books Henry and I will check out from the library someday. The stories I tell him myself will be about real people and the sad, funny, beautiful, awful things that happen in this world, because those are the only stories I know.