It’s Saturday, February 10th — the Saturday before Mardi Gras turns New Orleans into one giant block party. Jake, Lily, Gabe and I are out on Canal Street. We just braved breakfast at Ihop (only waited about five minutes!) and are waiting for Tucks. I hold my giant, fru-fru drink that cost too much money and is a billion times sweeter than anything I’d normally drink. But, it’s Carnival season and we’re having fun! It’s not an observation, it’s a demand.
We got Gabe’s surgery date on Thursday. I was lying in bed having just gotten him back to sleep. I was exhausted. He’d slept miserably that night, the worst night of sleep to date. Jake took Lily to a movie set, where she was filming a scene as an extra. I had planned to take her, but I was too anxious and had been up since 4 am. The email notification popped up as I checked the weather for the week. “Gabriel’s scheduled for surgery on March 5.”
My mind has been abuzz since that email. I had a parade to go to that night. We had Mardi Gras weekend plans. These thoughts will have to wait.
And here I sit in the midst of parade madness, with my drink and my family, having obligatory fun. Every few seconds, it flashes in my head: March 5. Surgery. Then I laugh and say something about getting a toilet plunger throw from the parade. Or how awesomely terrible my drink is. Or how much fun we had at breakfast. I say it with a smile. And at every pause, it flashes again.
Lily and I dance a bit in the street. People stop to laugh at Gabe pulling at my drink. Yep, here I am, a carefree mama just out enjoying the day with baby (my baby who needs cranial surgery). We’re just out having fun (because if we stop, I may lose it). Not a care in the world, just Mardi Gras (so it may appear to you, stranger; in reality, I sometimes feel like the weight is so heavy I can’t breathe). I’m going to keep on dancing (because if I don’t, I’ll probably cry).
I continue the escapism. I try to get lost in the crowds and people watching. I can only have a good time. I take photos and put them on Facebook. “Look how awesome this is!” is the message. I check my news feed and see other people having so much fun, too! Wow, this is great.
Then I scroll and there’s an update on the Craniosynostis support page from a mom who’s sitting in the hospital, her baby is now in post-op. She isn’t having fun. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be in her shoes. Sadness overcomes me as the dichotomy of my news-feed resonates.
I put my phone away and try so hard to live in the moment. This moment. This fun one, outside of a hospital, with large parade floats and fruity drinks. People are laughing and having an awesome time. I’ll be forced to live that other moment too soon. Until then, my brain just exists somewhere in between.