I wrote a post a while back titled ‘The Joys of Motherhood.’ When writing that, I didn’t anticipate writing about the sorrows. The title of the post was somewhat sarcastic considering the content was about my youngest dealing with the flu, but it still spoke to some of the magic. I still believe there is magic in motherhood, but now I have a new depth and a new understanding that I didn’t have before.
Prior to Ophelia’s death, I had a clear focus, a clear goal. I was going to be somebody phenomenal, make a ridiculous difference in the life of every person I ever met. I was driven to achieve, achieve, achieve! And I struggled with balancing all of my dreams and desires with the demands of motherhood – my deepest, unspoken (sometimes) fears were that I would damage my children beyond repair because I wasn’t there for them the way I should have been. Nevermind the fact that I am a stay at home mom, or that I love them beyond belief, or that I’m literally building my entire life around them. That fear was inevitably there. I think most mothers can relate – we are never enough, no matter what we do. Not in our nasty little heads anyway.
But then Ophelia died – and I changed. There have been a lot of challenging aspects to this story. There are pieces of the journey that I’m still not sure what to do with. But the one that’s shown up bright and clear is that my focus needed to shift, at least temporarily. It’s almost like I got hit with the clarity stick and I saw, finally, what truly matters to me and where my heart really lives. If there is one thing my daughter did for me (and she did a lot), it’s that she showed me the depth of my own heart’s ability to love. And I see my children so differently now, each as the perfect gift that I’ve been given the privilege of raising and discovering. I get to know these souls inside and out, for all of their greatness. And now I can see it.
There is a quote in one of the songs of Les Miserables. The quote says, “And remember the truth that once was spoken, to Love another person is to see the face of God.” To a large degree I feel like Ophelia unlocked this for me. I see God in my angel baby, and I see God in the faces of my children, in how much love and compassion they have for me, for themselves, for one another, and the world. This, to me, is an incredible gift.
What’s interesting to note, however, is that as time passes I’m finding my passion return. I keep thinking of all the ways I can use this experience to better the lives of others. I think I want to honor her somehow by embracing the experience and using it to create love and beauty for the world around me. But maybe that’s my way of never having to say good bye, not completely. Because if I’m serving, somehow that means she’s always with me. So my passion has a new light igniting it. I am still absolutely driven to write my books. Why? Because they’re designed to make a difference. They’re designed to mirror life’s journey in a way that helps others discover something beautiful about themselves. If I can help one person see the face of God that resides within, then I’ve done something great. I hope, somehow, somewhere, that I can create beauty in my words. I truly do. And healing. And joy. And understanding. That is one thing I see very clearly – it’s important to me that people are understood.
It matters to me that the world knows how incredibly painful it is to give birth to a 21.5 week stillborn child. It’s important to me that the world recognizes the mourning that a mother goes through when she has a miscarriage. Or the strength and courage it takes to pull yourself out of the bleak hole that is depression, postpartum or otherwise. It’s important to me that the world connects on a level of humanity, the humanity that says ‘I see you and I understand.’ I want my books to be read and have my readers have the experience that they are understood.
So maybe it’s not a new focus after all. Maybe it’s a renewed focus, one that has more depth behind it. Either way, something has changed in me, something on a fundamental level. Now I get to rediscover who I am.