I went out twice this weekend. Once without Paul for the first time in a long time and the second time Paul and I went out with a group of friends. I enjoyed myself tremendously both nights. The first night I accompanied some friends of mine to their company Christmas party (which happened to be an old employer of mine) and there were several people at the party that attended some of Joaquin’s services. And I couldn’t help but wonder – was anybody judging me? As I posted pictures of myself smiling on Facebook I wondered if some people that viewed those pictures thought “Oh wow…she’s out already?”.
The next night was a bit different as we attended a fundraiser as we had for the previous three years for a non-profit rehabilitation clinic for children that Joaquin attended for the first year and a half of his life. Attending this event means a lot to me and Paul as we are grateful for the services they provided Joaquin and other children in the community. And I as greeted people in the lobby I felt like I had to explain my presence there.
But I shouldn’t have to. And I shouldn’t have to feel guilty. And I shouldn’t have to wonder what people are thinking of us. Because to be honest, just because we’re laughing and smiling and yes, having a drink or two doesn’t mean that we’re handling things well or that we look really good considering what we’ve been through. Do you know that after things die down, I sit and cry? Do you know that when Paul and I are left alone in the silence we stare at pictures of our boy and wonder how this happened to us. Do you know that it takes every ounce of strength to not let Joaquin’s memory cloud by mind on a good night out? Do you know that I see Joaquin everywhere and that sometimes it makes me smile but sometimes it also makes one lone tear sneak out of my eye? Do you know that we cry just as much as we laugh these days? So yes, I will go out. And yes, I love to laugh. And you know what? Paul and I are going on a trip without Alejandro in May. I’ll be the first to tell you that being rowdy is not on the top of something I want to participate in but after all that we’ve been through I would say that Paul and I deserve it. I just want to smile. We’re allowed to smile. We’re allowed to enjoy ourselves in the presence of great friends. And in my opinion that’s just another way that God is gracing us. So if anybody ever wonders what we’re doing out there having what seems like a good time, I hope that they just thank God that he’s allowing laughter back in our lives. I know I am.