I talked to single mother today.
I had spoken with her before, as she frequently works out in the gym at the student activities center at the University where I work. She had come by my office the first time to ask how she could get into better shape now that her son was born. After working with her to come up with a plan, I ended up sharing with her the story of my daughter. She was very grateful for the help that I provided and for sharing my story with her. Following this first meeting, she always stopped by to say hello whenever she came in to take a Zumba class or workout on her own, but today was different. She came in and I could tell something was weighing on her mind. She sat down in my office and said she wanted to talk to me more about my experience and about how it had made me feel. She told me something that in any other context probably would have made me angry and bitter towards her, but I could tell that what she was sharing with me was very difficult for her. She said that she never wanted children; her pregnancy with her son had been unplanned and her son’s father is never around. She felt as though her world was ending when she got pregnant and even now, some days, still feels that her life is over. She told me that lately, especially after hearing my story, she has been struggling to understand how all these women that want to have children so badly cannot have them, while women like her that never wanted them (and sometimes still don’t) are the ones who end up with successful pregnancies and healthy babies. She went on to share with me that she didn’t get prenatal care until she was forced to and even secretly hoped throughout the pregnancy that something might go wrong so that she would not have to have this child.
As much as it pained me to hear it, I knew she did not mean to hurt me with her words. She was trying to get a different perspective. She wanted to appreciate the fact that so many women out there would do anything to have a child. I could tell that she had been holding this in and that it was helping her to talk about it with someone. I didn’t want to take that from her. I told her that even when I felt like my world was falling down around me I tried to find some glimmer of beauty, some glimmer of hope to hold on to. Even now, 7 months after losing my daughter, there are days when I feel like the gravity has been turned up and my body and mind feel weak – the despair begins to creep in and all I want to do is go back to the blackness of sleep so that I don’t even have to think anymore. It is on those days that I have to dig deep. I have to find the silver lining and remember the things that still bring me joy, peace, hope and love. I remember my husband and how he has been here to support and love me, despite everything we have been through. I remember how he can still make me laugh so hard that I cry and how he works so hard every single day so that one day we can try to have another child. I remember the unwavering support of my friends and my family and how I feel when I am surrounded by their love. I remember the vast beauty of the stars in the sky at night, the sun setting across the lake and the fog floating across the water on cold mornings. I remember my daughters tiny hands and feet, her beautiful face, her fingers wrapping around mine and the way her daddy looked at her. I remember all of these things and it is a little easier to get up and go to work and find meaning each and every day.
I appreciate the strength it took for her to open up to me, knowing what I had been through. I have come to learn that everyone is going through something, and no one has the right to judge anyone else’s feelings. It is easy to let your negative experiences make you angry and bitter and there are still times when I feel those emotions surfacing, but I never want them to change who I am or how I treat other people.
Sometimes you need a new perspective in order to appreciate what you and others are going through. It is these new perspectives that can help you find renewed hope and understanding of your place within this universe.
Peace, Be Well.