If I ever threw a party and no one came, I imagine it would go something like this:
I would awaken the morning of the party, excited about all the possibility the day was going to hold. I'd be giddy. I'd imagine all of the details, everything unfolding in just the most perfect of ways. I'd envision the perfect conversations I'd have with my guests. I'd anticipate how they would love all the tasty treats I had prepared for them. I'd preoccupy myself for all the morning hours just knowing how perfect things would be.
As the hour of my guests' arrival approached, I would begin listening for them. I'd listen for their cars barreling down the street; I'd hear car doors slam in the distance and move quickly to the window to know immediately who had done it. As the time drew even closer, I wouldn't spend even a second worrying that they weren't coming because of course they were. Instead I would focus my energy on guessing who was going to arrive first.
A few minutes would pass and all of my guests would officially be late, but I still wouldn't worry. Most people don't show up on time, and no one wants to be the first person at a party. I'd take a walk into the dining room to make sure everything was in order, to make sure I hadn't forgotten to put out the artichoke dip or the cocktail napkins or the little sesame pretzel things I found at Trader Joe's. Feeling reassured that all was, in fact, right with the world, I'd return to my perch just to the side of the window - the perch that's close enough to see what's going on, but not so close that I feel I'm hovering. A watched pot never boils so I wouldn't want to hover.
After 10 minutes I still wouldn't worry. There must be traffic somewhere. Maybe I should have scheduled my party a little earlier in the day? Another 10 and I might start to wonder, but certainly someone will be here soon. By half past the appointed hour I would feel officially justified in worry, and some sadness would probably creep in. But mixed into all of that would be some hope, too. After all, 30 minutes late is not too late to arrive at a gathering.
That hope would fade, I suppose, as another half hour crept by with me on my perch and my artichoke dip cooling on the table and the drips of water on the outside of my lemonade pitcher pooling on the table beneath it. And at a certain point I might decide it was time to put some food in the fridge - just for safe keeping, because surely someone would come to eat it. So one by one I would take my dishes and cover them with saran wrap and make room for them on the shelves.
There might be some decorations on the wall, but I'd leave those, at least for another day. It would seem too final to take them down altogether. Not just yet. But after another hour or so, it would seem silly to leave the lights on, and I'd be tired anyway, so I'd quietly switch them off and just go to bed. And I'd drift off to sleep knowing that my party would have been grand, but unfortunately, no one came.
But here's the thing: I didn't throw a party, I tried to have a second child. And I made all kinds of preparations and I waited and I looked for signs and I thought I saw signs and I checked to make sure everything was in order and it was and I went back to waiting and still no one came and I started to lose hope and to wonder if maybe I shouldn't have tried all this a little earlier until finally it became clear that no one was coming so I shut down and tried to get some rest.
And while there's no denying the sting that comes along with opening yourself up only to be left alone, this one doesn't sting quite as much as you might think. Because first of all, I wasn't waiting alone. I had David there with me through it all and he makes any party worth having. And the other thing? I threw this same party three years ago and just the right guest arrived at that one. So even though this party didn't quite pan out, I do know the joy of a party gone well.
I am starting to find some peace concerning this journey we're on. I haven't taken down those decorations yet - still too final - but I have started to nibble at the untouched party food and I have started to accept the fact that this party may be simply a party of three.