The second half of April was the time for comebacks.
My friends had been patiently waiting for news from me, some of them had probably already given up hope to ever hearing from me again, and my sick leave was going to expire.
I probably had the chance to have one more week off from work, if I just asked my GP and told her I wasn’t feeling ready. And I actually wasn’t feeling ready, at all. However I was willing to try to get back, maybe I was just curious to see how things were going to go, or, more likely, I knew that postponing my return to work was not going to change much: I was going to be terrified that morning and God knows for how many mornings after that one. All in all, I might as well have stopped procrastinating.
So in a mid-spring morning, I got back to work.
As expected, I didn’t sleep much the night before and, as expected, I was pretty nervous while getting ready to go out. I drove to my workplace and walked inside the building to my desk.
I received with a little embarrassment and some annoyance my colleagues’ greetings for my comeback and their questions about what had been going on in the previous month.
Nevertheless, I sat down at my desk and started hoping that the day could pass by quickly.
I was expecting to have a pretty quiet day, except for the colleagues’ questions and their pilgrimage to my desk, to come and see the girl who had had a month off for some still murky healthy-related reasons.
Unexpectedly, instead, I wound up being part of an endless meeting lasting almost the entire day with something like 15 people, the majority of whom were complete strangers to me. Luckily I didn’t have to do much during the meeting; all that was expected from me was to sit tight, listen and nod from time to time. I did my best, despite some hesitations here and there, due to the heat of the room, to my drowsiness mixed with headache and to the feeling that I was going to go crazy at any moment.
Nine hours later, I headed back home feeling completely exhausted, like I had taken the field for my battle royal. But while driving back home, I realized that there was some very feeble sensation in me, telling that – probably – the battle had just been won (or at least that it hadn’t been a total waterloo).
The following weekend I texted my best friend and asked him out for a coffee.
Was I feeling ready to meet him again? No. But I definitely wanted to see him again after four months of separation, plus I had been feeling better and better every day in the previous weeks. In a nutshell, things were looking up.
We made a date for a cloudy Saturday afternoon.
Guess what? Yeah, while getting ready to go out, my stomach was hurting, my head was feeling a little dizzy, my jaw was clenching. I was nervous. Nothing new.
I parked my car round the corner of our meeting point and walked to the subway station where he was going to reach me. I spotted him on the other side of the street and immediately looked down; for some reason, I wanted him to see me before we exchanged our glances.
I smiled at him, he smiled at me. We talked about me, him, my months without him, his months without me, my therapy, his therapy, my meds, his meds. We laughed about how much we were finally looking like two characters from a Woody Allen’s movie.
Three hours flew by. We parted at dinner time and I got back home proud of myself, glad for how well I had been, happy for the friend I had just found back and unusually hopeful about my future. Maybe even about our future.
A couple of weeks later, a friend of mine gave birth to a baby girl; a perfect chance for me to get back in touch with her and her partner and to meet their new puppy.
My best friend and I met at the mall on a Sunday afternoon and went shopping for baby clothes.
While we were pondering over all those mini-dresses and joking about some stupid comments on the baby’s size, I felt as part of a real couple for the first time. I knew we were not a couple – not yet, at least – but I couldn’t stop looking at us from the outside and seeing a boy and a girl who were sweetly enjoying every minute of their time spent together.
Right after our present was wrapped, we headed to the new parents’ house and there I met their brand-new daughter. She was 4 days old on that Sunday; I had never seen a younger or smallest baby in my life. She was so sweet, warm and naturally scented. I had her in my arms for a while and realized I was spending one of my best afternoons of the last months, among three old friends and a newborn child.
Before I got back home, the new mum said something I had never heard before, especially addressed to me: she said she was seeing in my person a “new version of me”.
It surprised me. And I loved it.
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