If there’s one thing that happens to me when I see The Wiggles (yes, the Australian children’s music super group), I cry. Noah LOVED the Wiggles. They were one of his favorites when he was still here. He watched them sing their songs on our giant television in our disaster of a living room -filled with toys, books, stuffed animals, clothes, crumbs of every known food, and laughter. So much giggling. Incessant. And one day he started acting out the songs along with them. Spinning, arms in the air, clapping. Watching our children absorb and mimic is fascinating. Seeing what appeals to them, oftentimes with no rhyme or reason. His favorite song was “Rock-a-Bye-Your-Bear” and it feels so fresh still, watching him nail the motions that went along with the lyrics.
Today, with the daughter we never knew we would have, we went to see The Wiggles. We’d kept this surprise for a few months. We told Miriam about it just two days ago.
“The Wiggles in real life?! In New Jersey?! Is New Jersey far away?”
We thought The Wiggles would be the actual surprise but apparently finding out we live in New Jersey was an even bigger shocker.
Miriam is a very good audience member. She sits nicely and she knows how to shush me. Often. Especially when I’m singing along.
Fueled by a giant lollipop and her all season favorite of candy corn, we watched as the audience filled up with children. And then when the lights dimmed and The Wiggles came out waving, Miriam’s eyes lit up with wonderful disbelief. Hal and I smiled at each other over Miriam’s head. And then Simon Wiggle announced “Let’s start our show with ‘Rock-a-Bye-Your-Bear’. Sing along everyone!”
My tears flowed instantly. They almost sprayed out like a sprinkler. But these were different tears. Not the tears of the early years when every brutal reminder hurt like a mofo. Like a hot knife in my most tender spot. The tears were sweeter than saltier today. The fears I battle of Miriam disappearing like Noah did are still there always. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real. And it is a constant struggle.
I’ve been thinking about fragments. How fragmented life can be. How sectional. A chapter book. I’m always struggling against that fragment of my life when Noah was here. Watching The Wiggles, eating PB&J Uncrustables, and laughing. Laughing innocently along with him. Never in a million years thinking this could end. Just a fragment.
So I try to see the flow of each fragment into the next. And some days are harder than others. Never did I think I’d have a network of grieving mothers (and a few fathers) from around the world. Never did I think I ‘d need them and they’d need me. Never did I think my life would be anymore than it was. Ordinary. Normal. Without stigma. The joy of an uneventful day would take on new meaning.
Some of my mothers have been struggling lately. More than usual. Anniversary dates. Summertime. Holidays. We text each other and message each other and send heart emojis to each other and that is the best we can do for each other. Because there is no way around this. My heart breaks for their pain.
And I try to back step to the innocent days. But we all know that’s impossible. For any one of us. Whether your child has died or not. You lose your innocence in life with every breath. And if you’re doing it right, it becomes wisdom.
So as I watched Miriam watch The Wiggles on stage “in real life in New Jersey” and I mouthed the words rather than sang out loud, I thought about my current fragment of this life I have now.
I’m a joy catcher, even if that means waving incessantly at Anthony Wiggle from the 12th row until he waves back. I’m a happiness chaser even if that means a trip to the park when I really just want to go home. Even if that means staying up too late to finish a story when I should be asleep. Because writing helps me put these fragments on a shelf for seven to eight hours per night. And then I hope my dreams are kind to me.
The Wiggles “in real life in New Jersey” was a bridge between two fragments. Like two tin cans joined by a string. Noah was one can and Miriam was the other. And that string is long. Some days longer than others.