Two weeks after London was born I was foraging through the refrigerator for anything edible. We hadn’t been able to go grocery shopping since Kate was pregnant. I was not hopeful about what I would find, but why not try? If I found something, then maybe I would cook a meal at home. At this point we were living off meals delivered to our door while we were at the NICU.
As I moved condiments aside to see to the back of the fridge, I spotted something. It looked like lettuce before I saved it from the depths of the Kenmore, but it didn’t need saving, the package of baby kale spoiled at least a week prior. However, this was much more than a package of spoiled lettuce. I bought it before London’s birth so it was a relic of my former life. Standing there, holding the baby kale, I could picture the day I bought it. It seemed like ages ago. It was just a trip to the grocery store and the now yellowing leaves of baby kale made me yearn to be in that place again, where I was simply grocery shopping without, in hindsight, a care in the world.
The baby kale linked me back to this person who I no longer was, a person I didn’t have the time to say goodbye to. Not only a person, but a lifestyle too, that in the weeks following London’s birth I mourned. In a way, as expecting parents, you have nearly ten months to transition from one lifestyle, the one with no kids, to another lifestyle, that of parenthood. One of the toughest things about having a preemie is that those remaining three months (in our case) were lopped off with no warning and in six hours you are thrust into an experience so beyond what you could have imagined. An experience with terrifying responsibilities and with horrific consequences.
There are of course things around our house that Kate and I bought long before London arrived, but the baby kale brought me back to the pre-London era like nothing else could. As I dropped the kale into the trash, I was not simply letting go of spoiled food, I was letting go of a past, one I could no longer identify with and letting go of a self I could barely remember being.