I have been so obscenely happy lately that every now and then I have to take a reality check. Like all the rest of us, I just received one. Right now, my heart goes out to every single person on the Virginia Tech campus.
I'm remembering what happened in my senior year of college. We had a suicide -- someone well-known and well-liked at school, who had left for a while because of mental illness and returned because he was supposedly better. His body was found among the rocks of a tributary to the Hudson, where he had clearly taken a high jump from a wooded precipice. Our entire campus mourned. We all knew Esteban, and we held memorials, and farewell parties, and sometimes just burst out crying in the middle of classes. But considering how one death affected us all, I can only imagine the scope of the tragedy in Virginia right now.
Ever since I became engaged, I've been giving it all away. I'm a much easier touch for the buskers and the pleading and the needy on my subway rides or on streetcorners. Somehow I just wish that everyone could be as happy I am, and so I've been trying to give whatever I can, whenever I can. And now this. I looked at G as we were listening to reports on the car radio this morning. I love him like crazy, and mostly I get a huge kick out of his often macabre humor, but today I cut him off at the pass. "Do me a favor," I said, taking a deep breath. "Don't even joke about this one." He looked over at me kindly, and kissed me. "Okay," he said.
A little while ago I confirmed my order of flowers for my wedding ceremony this Saturday evening. I was on the phone discussing Vandella roses and freesia and pale delphinium with the florist. And for a moment, I felt the way that I did on the days after September 11th, when I was picking out clothes to wear that day, or going grocery shopping, and I would be overwhelmed with guilt and shame for the fact that I had the luxury of choosing what to wear or what to eat when so many lay dead, so many were in mourning. There are people in Virginia also ordering flowers right now -- but not for wedding ceremonies.
I know that in the midst of grief, we are still in life. And my joy continues. We will be married on Saturday. We'll go to a lovely dinner at a beautiful restaurant that night, hosted by my in-laws. Our wedding night will be spent at a very posh hotel in midtown: the gift of dear friends. The next day, friends and colleagues will toast us at a cocktail party hosted by my brother and sister-in-law. Later on our family party will take place, on a Saturday in May, and the day after that there'll be a brunch, hosted by my dear cousin...and we'll all keep discussing menus and champagne and cupcakes and flowers and accomodations for elders and children. And more joy -- our niece and nephew will come into the world, hopefully in late May or in June. But with all that, my thoughts are in Virginia right now.