The wonderful part was darling Calliope. We had such a fabulous time together.
Saturday, we went to a pumpkin festival in Carroll Gardens. Free hot dogs (we shared three!), free candy (she sampled her first Reese's peanut butter cup and was VERY disappointed not to have more), pumpkin decorating (you had to buy the pumpkin but the painting was free... we passed on this activity), face painting (no thanks), free balloons (yes please! what is sweeter than the delight of a toddler with a balloon?), and best of all, free pony rides!
I had to change my story about her age once they informed me the minimum was eighteen months. The helmet, even on the smallest setting, kept slipping down over her face. At one point she started to slide sideways off the miniature pony, which of course was still quite large in comparison to her.
But. The look on her face was priceless. Pure joy.
Afterwards, we took the subway to Prospect Park for a cider pressing event, hosted by my summer camp. Apart from our close friends and downstairs neighbors, I didn't know many people, but it was just nice to lounge on the grass in the hot (again) sunshine and bask in the warmth of the people around me. Calliope busied herself with transferring apples from one crate to another.
After that, we walked slowly through Prospect Park with Emily and Annabelle, Calliope's four year old idol. Calliope napped. We went out for Thai food and then back to my place for ice cream. Since Calliope didn't really eat much Thai food, she filled up on ice cream.
Today, we went to the farmer's market and playground in the morning, then she napped for two hours while I worked out. Afterwards, we made an impromptu visit to the Prospect Park zoo, just the two of us. We had lunch while watching the baboons, then fed the goats in the petting zoo.
Another long walk home through Prospect Park, even more beautiful for the silence, apart from the companionable babbling back and forth -- Calliope would toss out a syllable, and I would mimic it back.
It was a perfect weekend together. I kept her up too late and compromised her schedule in all sorts of ways. She didn't eat enough, perhaps because I didn't give her a single meal on her regular schedule and in her high chair. But oh, we laughed so much. I crawled slowly and deliberately and pretend-menacingly, growling "I'm going to get you" as she shrieked with laughter. We took a bath together, singing "rub a dub, scrub a tub, time to get in the tub" and taking turns pouring water over each others' heads. She signed "potty" for the first time as she watched me in the zoo bathroom stall. She also signed "water" when thirsty for the first time. She's standing without holding on for upwards of thirty seconds now, though still no independent walking for me. She joyously brushed my teeth, and less joyously, permitted me to brush hers.
In the other times, when she was asleep, it was dark. Friday night, I called my mother sobbing, grieving the terrible news about Olivia. I slept badly that night, feeling guilty for losing myself to sleep while Aaron and Karina were suffering so terribly. I woke Saturday feeling oh so depressed. It was a miracle that I was able to get us out of the house. I tried to remind myself that it didn't help Aaron and Karina for me to be depressed. Thank god it was beautiful outside. Being out in the sun all day helped tremendously.
Today I was better. I mustered up the energy for a workout, though it was so hard, mentally, to maintain the focus necessary to really push myself. Afterwards, though, I felt rejuvenated... hence, the spontaneous trip to the zoo.
Tonight I saw the email I was dreading. Olivia passed away last night at 8 pm. She died in the loving arms of her parents, peacefully.
I'm glad the news came tonight, while I was home, instead of at work tomorrow.
I thought I was okay with the news. I knew her prognosis was grim. Aaron and Karina are friends I talk to and see once a year. Most of our relationship is memories from long ago. I have no right to be taking this so personally.
And yet, while preparing the crock pot and trying to put away groceries and tidy the kitchen that had been abandoned all weekend in favor of being out in the cheerful sunshine... I find that I am filled with rage. Not at anyone, or anything. Just pure rage. It was all I could do not to throw dishes across the kitchen. I wanted to scream and stamp my foot and shatter things.
So I'm leaving a sinkful of dishes and going to bed. I wish, tonight, that Calliope and I could sleep together... tonight would be a good night to feel my girl's body against me. Perhaps I'll go steal her sleeping body from the crib and rock her in my arms for a few moments. What a blessing her presence is. I am so deeply grateful for her.