Sitting alone, I was letting go of the heaviness which had slowly been building over the weeks and months prior. My children are not surprised by tears. They are not intimidated by pain that has no balm – time and time again they gently recognize the hurting of others and somehow manage to balance ache with joy.
“Oh, mama!” she exclaimed authentically while clamoring into my lap. I didn’t attempt to form words… I’ve truly exhausted all my words and I wasnt afraid of frightening her. Instead, I quietly and deliberately engulfed her in my arms, buried my face in her neck and attempted to take the first of several deep breaths of renewal – re-entry into reality where my daughter exists and my son does not.
However, rather than receiving my embrace and returning my love with a squishy hug of her own, she pushed back. She leaned back and looked me square in the face. Next she reached up and gently cupped my face in her sweaty hands. Nervously I darted my eyes away and carefully squirmed under her gaze, but she held fast and intently studied my face.
A rush of fear washed over me, suddenly I could see myself through her eyes. I was acutely aware of my wet, red eyes. My blotchy, dull skin. The slouch of emptiness in my demeanor and the scars of trauma carved permanently into my forehead. I was scared for her.
Oh honey, oh sweet child – please – don’t join me in this place. I don’t wish for you a mother shattered and ruined deep inside. Please, dear one… Please, turn away…
But despite my desperate desire to close up my cracks and leaky places for the sake of my little girl, I didn’t have the time or the wherewithal to fix myself up before my daughter climbed undaunted into the depths of me.
Disappointed and self-conscious I breathed in while my daughter quietly, seriously probed my face, entering deep into my brokenness. She wasn’t judging me, she was absorbing me, even as the wave of excruciating guilt and fear crashed over us.
I wonder if the moment felt dangerous to her. I wonder if she realized how quickly she could be swallowed up in my pain, left to wander blackened corridors from within the shell of me.
As I searched for words that still didn’t exist, my living, breathing, loving daughter leaned in -my face still in her hands – she touched her forehead to my own and whispered in a sweet, husky voice, “I love you so much.” and then she proceeded to disentangle herself from me. She carefully exited – the moment… my arms – fully intact.
Left suddenly alone again, I looked cautiously around to realize some of the deadened pieces of myself – now seen by the heart of my child – had somehow come alive again.