It still warms my heart that people are thinking of ways to make my family happy and help ease our pain. This year when the opportunity to take Brooke to New York City with her best friend, Molly, and her mother, Rebecca, presented itself, I jumped at it. It has been a tough year and an even tougher June with Matthew’s 40th Birthday, Father’s Day and all the end of year school events. An escape from the city for a few days was incredibly appealing. So off we went, two moms and two 9 year-olds, for a weekend in the Big Apple. A time to bond with our daughters in a way that we will all remember forever.
The Joy of New Friends
I have got to know Rebecca through our girls over the last few years. We had only hung out a handful of times when Matt was alive and after his passing our relationship grew stronger. Her whole family has been a huge support to Brooke. What I love about Rebecca is that there is no judgment on how I am coping, no pity glances and no questions about therapy or future plans. With her I am just a mom going away with her daughter on a girls’ trip. We talked about the girls’ activities, school gossip, challenges of motherhood, cliques at school and of course the “girl drama in grade 3”. She was the perfect travel companion.
This trip also gave me the opportunity to devote all my attention to Brooke. I don’t often get the chance to focus solely on her because the boys are younger and need more hands-on attention. I have also given Brooke a lot of responsibilities this year and am likely too hard on her at times. I wanted her to put her big sister duties aside and for us to leave our grief and the stresses of day-to-day life behind us. No errands to do and no activities to get too either – all we had to do was have fun.
A Normal Family
I think Brooke and I both felt like a “normal family” on this trip. Something we haven’t felt like in a very long time. It was every 9 year-old’s dream and my dream to be able to share it with her.
Where do I even begin to describe the weekend we had? The retail therapy New York City offers cannot be ignored, of course. American Girl, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Century 21, even Tiffany’s – you name it, we did it. All four of us were in heaven. We rocked out at School of Rock, one of the best Broadway shows I’ve seen in years. The girls went crazy with happiness. The food of course was epic – brunch at Sarabeth’s, dinner at Sushi Samba in the West Village, cupcakes at Magnolia and cookies at Levain bakery and much more.
Best move Rebecca and I made was hiring a babysitter for Saturday night! It gave us a break from the girls and a much needed mom-only girls’ night out. Complete with a swanky rooftop bar in the Meatpacking District, multiple mojitos and the attention of some very nice looking gentlemen. What could be better? I don’t get the opportunity to do this very often in Toronto so it was awesome. It made me realize how important it is for my self-esteem to get dressed up and go out. A nice ego boost. I even started to think I might be getting my swagger back a little. I was laughing and smiling the whole time in New York City – this was all I could have asked for.
New Beginning and the End of a Year of Firsts
The trip felt like a start to my new beginning and the end of a year of firsts. Thank god! This year was so hard and emotional and I am happy it is finally coming to an end. In some ways this makes life easier, but on the other hand the kids are starting to understand our new reality. Just last night Brooke turned to me and said, “Mommy I really miss Daddy.” I was happy she finally started to talk about missing Matthew, something she really has not done all year, but it was so sad. The reality that my children don’t have a father has really started to settle in with them and me. I keep answering their questions, comforting them the best way I know how and taking it one day at a time. This is all I can do.
For me though, this trip was another step toward my new normal. I felt like a load was lifted off my shoulders, I am no longer Heidi the widow, single mom of three. I am starting to become Heidi charging forward with my 3 kids and ready to face the world.
I am thrilled to say that the weekend in New York City far surpassed my wildest dreams.