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Sunday, 25 March 2001

My Self, My Mother

Written by  Michaela Russell

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I think I was cleaning a bay window one scorching white July morning when it hit me: an extravagant sense of calm. I hadn't felt this embraced by stillness since early childhood, and it blew hotly into me like the weather outside.

True to form, I was unable to accept this cosmic gift without questioning it. Why did peace of mind wash in with today's tide? Who granted me this favor? And did I deserve it?

I looked at the calendar: July 31st. An anniversary - the loss of a much wanted almost-baby. I hadn't even thought of it in several weeks: I was busy, having just given birth to my beautiful "do-over."

But my inner-calendar was right on schedule. Today was the day, last year, when I broke down completely during lunch with friends before I realized why. Today was the day, two years ago, when I lay in the hospital, wishing I could die with the tiny being that did.

This year, the ache was farther away - and much softened by the presence of a squirming new life. The tranquility moved over me in waves, celebrating my acquiescence to my own history, and I closed my eyes.

There was something I had to do.

I stood at the window, pressing my body against it, absorbing the magnificent heat, my eyes still closed. I took myself back there, back to the medical center, two years before.

There I saw myself, choking back tears on a bench outside the specialist's office, where the tests had been confirmed and explained, diagrammed and reviewed. The pregnancy was over, although you'd never know it to look at me. People smiled as they walked by, assuming that, like everyone else, we were just there to count vertebrae and toes.

I had a hollow, low roar in my throat that I will never forget. It said: This will never, ever be OK. It echoed into my stomach and down to my knees; I couldn't move.

I wanted many answers right then: Why was this happening? What's wrong with me? What did I do to cause this? Will this happen next time? Will there be a next time? Will I ever have another healthy baby? How will my parents and in-laws react? How will the people at work react? What will I do now in the fall, when I was planning my leave? How will this affect my little daughter? How does my husband really feel?

I reverberated with the terror of all those unknown answers.

Today's me was glowing with the heat of the day, hair tangled from the wet weather, and smiling. I sat down next to yesterday's me, and put my arms around myself.

It will be OK, I explained. It will never be completely over, but it will be OK. I will live, I will grow, I will laugh again. I will have days when I forget. I will have even more days when I remember, but it doesn't make me cry.

I will be able to help others. I will gain appreciation for everything wondrous which once seemed natural. Life will gain a deeper texture.

I told myself to breath deeply, swallow hard, and stop trying to be in control of the situation. There was nothing to do, and nothing to understand. It just was. Through this, I told myself, I will learn that trying to be in control of everything is both foolish and impossible. Understanding comes when it does. And sometimes, it just doesn't.

Mother-me gave that poor, numb child-woman on the bench a kiss.

Then I opened my eyes.

Embracing myself, I finally felt I had earned my serenity.

I had given birth to it.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 March 2011 12:20
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Michaela Russell

Michaela Russell is a pen name.

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