When I was a kid, I loved the movie Hook. My brother and sister and I watched it over and over and over again. Something about the idea of living in an imaginary world where kids never grow up, have rules, or have those pesky parents hanging around was quite entertaining. Not to mention that you can fly and fight pirates! No wonder we loved it.
I have an interesting case of book/movie amnesia that has yet to be officially diagnosed, but somehow I tend to forget everything I read or watch within about one month. But in the case of Hook, there is one scene that is burned into my mind forever. And no, it’s not where everyone chants, “Rufio, Rufio!” (Ok so I lied, two scenes are burned in my mind forever.)
It’s the one where Peter Pan remembers. He finally remembers his past. He remembers going to Neverland to escape from growing old. He remembers missing his family and coming back to his window only to find that his family has moved on. They had a new baby and had forgotten about him. So Peter stayed in Neverland. He visited other people. He never wanted to grow up and face the ugly world that adults live in.
That scene where he looks in and sees his family happily playing with a new baby…I can’t tell you how many times that image has flashed in my mind over the past weeks as our little rainbow grows bigger and bigger. This is the guilt that rainbow mommies and daddies face. It is a constant tug-of-war between my two children, both of whom I cannot physically hold…at least, not yet. One I hope to hold soon on Earth. The other, one day in heaven. For now, I hold them both in my heart.
If I spend time thinking about Callie, I feel guilty that I wasn’t focused on our rainbow. Am I trying hard enough to celebrate this new and different life? And when I focus on our rainbow, I feel guilty that Callie is being “forgotten”. Will she look in the window and feel like we moved on?
Rationally, I know that Callie would want her mommy and daddy to be happy. To stay frozen in time because we lost her would contradict all the things we swore to embrace because of her. To live life, to enjoy it, to appreciate the small and precious things. But the guilt, well, I think it’s just an unavoidable part of becoming the parent of a rainbow. It will be a life of contradictions, of comparisons, of balance…forever. Guilt and forgiveness.
I find myself hoping some of the same hopes, dreaming the same dreams that I had with Callie. And it’s so hard. I can’t explain how agonizing it is to be facing this Christmas once again daydreaming about the next Christmas. This one was supposed to be the next Christmas. The one where we stuck a bow on Callie’s head and took her first picture with Santa. We talked about how we would have a real tree this year because we wouldn’t be going out of town. We would be staying put so we could start our own traditions for Callie. But she’s not here. No bows stuck to a cute baby head. No pictures with Santa. No real tree. I guess we could do one anyway, but the thought of it is just too painful. Instead, I think about next Christmas. Again. But this time, that hoping and dreaming is tainted with the harsh sting of reality. The expression, “ignorance is bliss,” is so very true. Last Christmas, I never dreamed that this would happen to us. There were no “if”s or “I hope”s. And now, that is all I hear when people discuss next Christmas, the next doctor’s appointment, the next day.
If. I hope.
I don’t blame Peter for running away to Neverland. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a sick tree house? True freedom. Freedom from reality.
But in the movie Hook, Peter left Neverland. He left for one reason. Because he wanted to be a dad.
This might sound dramatic, but I think it’s the straight-up truth… becoming a parent is most likely the most dangerous thing you could do with your heart. You create a new life, that you couldn’t possibly love any more. But you risk pain, heartache, and embarrassment. You feel their every triumph, but you feel their failures times ten. And in the worst of possibilities, you watch them suffer, watch them fight for their lives…and sometimes, they lose. We loved. We lost. And now we are setting ourselves up for it again. When you become a parent, you sign yourself up for all of those possibilities whether you realize it or not.
So here we are stepping out of Neverland again, gambling it all. The fairy tale, the swashbuckling, the fairy dust and happy thoughts.
Because… we believe it’s worth the risk.
“You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming?
That’s where I’ll always love you… That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
Just in case you have no clue what movie I’m talking about, here is a clip. Yes, it’s a ridiculous kid movie. A ridiculous kid movie I just so happen to love: