Of course, October has been changed for me. The leaves falling from the trees remind me of all the days spent looking down at Central Park from Matilda's hospital room. Pumpkin spice anything brings me right back to the Starbucks near the hospital that I would frequent as my daily escape. And, I can't think about costumes without remembering Matilda's first one. Worst of all is that we took Matilda to a pumpkin patch the very day that she ended up in the hospital. The idea that we were happily picking out pumpkins as a family not knowing that our whole world was about to change makes me sick with the same worry I felt while riding in the ambulance in the middle of the night.
But, I also have to admit that this October feels very normal. We feel very normal. There were so many days spent crying in the beginning, while I questioned if I would ever feel normal in public again. I was consumed with so much worry and fear that Matilda would catch something that would put her right back into the hospital. I felt for so long that that fear had a hold on me and would never relent.
Parker had the day off of school and when we woke to a foggy, spooky, and gloomy day I was filled with excitement - it was the perfect day to visit the local pumpkin patch*! The kids and I giggled as we drove through the fog and told "spooky stories".
Best of all, we had the entire pumpkin patch to ourselves. We took our time, we talked about the life cycle of a pumpkin, and I stood back watching my children explore and discover. Matilda with all her might walking up the biggest pumpkins sure that she could tip them over. And Parker and I laughing in shock when she actually would! Parker taking long paths around the mud puddles and Matilda jumping right in. Parker insisting on picking all the pumpkins without stems and Matilda collecting all the "cute little babies".
I could go on and on - the outing was perfect and beyond compare. Hands down, it was the best pumpkin picking of my life and I almost made it without the smell of hospital finding my nose, the ring of IV alarms in my ears, or the flash of a tiny Matilda lying so still in her hospital bed. Matilda insisted on pushing the empty wagon back to the spot where we found it. Parker and I stood watching her work, watching her fight for independence, watching her spirit sing. And that was when it hit me. She was meant to walk her journey, to experience what she did, to change the world - and this is just the beginning.
*Not the same one we took her to the day she was hospitalized.