I am still thinking about this book (The Year of Magical Thinking)--mostly because I am spending large portions of my day reading about loss. Your losses. And the rawness of the book is reflected in the rawness of your responses. It doesn't matter how much time passes from the event. You may be able to discuss it without crying, but it doesn't make it any easier. Any less of a loss.
I was reading another blog last night (http://asomewhatordinarylife.blogspot.com/) and she covered the exact topic I was going to bring up today! A terrible little piece of magical thinking I love to do: figure out the due date. At the beginning of the cycle, I check the little chart included in one of my numerous pregnancy books (because there is nothing like reading about infertility through a pregnancy when you're trying to conceive). And, of course, you can't help but dream harder when the date lines up with an event that already holds meaning in your life--your anniversary (you imagine the romantic celebration dinner where you're staring into the eyes of your husband and say, "it's time to go to the hospital."), your birthday (big bite of birthday cake and then...whoosh! Your water breaks), or Halloween (okay, this was stretching it, but it's one of my favourite holidays).
The question all this raises for me (especially when my husband tells me to stop checking the due date) is how this dreaming differs from the games of House we played when we were little (men who are reading this blog--perhaps you have engaged from time to time in a game of House. If you haven't, you may want to ask your wife to dig out the costumes and Little Tykes cars so you can experience the fun that is House). House was essentially a developmentally-appropriate game where little kids dream and practice the life they plan to lead when they are older. It's a way to try out the relationships of husband and wife long before you are married. And in role-playing, you're essentially stating the kind of wife or mother you wish to be in the future as well as the kind of husband and father (father to your children--not your daddy) you hope to attract.
When I look at these due dates, they help me visualize myself in the future. The winter baby who will be wrapped in a snow suit on the way home from the hospital. The summer baby that I will push in a carriage around the neighbourhood. Seeing myself in these activities made me realize what kind of mother I wanted to be. Are these visions always true--especially when you add into the equation the realities of life? That you may not be able to breast feed or you may have to return to work? Do they have to be true? Don't they give hope in a space that desperately needs hope?
Isn't hope the oxygen we desperately gasp when we're drowning in IF?
I think these dreams are important. I think looking up due dates or whatever you need to do in order to visualize yourself in the experience and stay on course is important. These thoughts grow the hope that help you keep moving so you can make it to the other side.
Joan Didion speaks about her need to be alone on the first night after her husband's death. She needed to be alone so he could come back to her--in dreams, in visualizations, and--more importantly her emotional side hoped--in reality. I don't think I'm ruining the ending of the book for you when I tell you that he doesn't return. She makes it through the year with magical thinking. If it helped her process her loss, how could it ever be a bad thing? And unhealthy thing?
How could looking up a due date be construed as unhealthy thinking?
How could rocking in a chair and pretending I'm holding a child be unhealthy? (okay, so I am crazy. So what? That's not the point...)
Especially if it was what we were encouraged to do when we were little.
The games of House. The games of marriage. The games of parenthood. Our preparation for the future.