Sunday, June 30, 2013
Our precious Mary Anna was three weeks old on Friday. It is so often said at these stages, but it is indeed so hard to believe it's been three weeks already. Blink.
Without diminishing the ceremony that was her birth, it is hard to reminisce on her arrival- those sacred moments - without also thinking of my mother's death. Every motion of the labor room- my own, the baby's, and the nurses'- kept my dear mother right there. So blessedly present. When I spoke of her to my sweet labor nurse Tonja, how she was a newborn nurse for so long, how she just missed her 13th grandchild, we both heard my heart rate on the monitor soaring. (Beating. Running towards her). Tonja held my hands and cried with me. Gathered my hair to one side of my shoulder and caressed my head. So gently. And how these two Marys missed each other. By just exactly 3 weeks. The very definition of bittersweet, if ever there was one. It is almost impossible to grasp all of what has happened in these last two months. I don't expect to ever fully make sense of things and in fact I have to go over the basic facts in my head almost daily to remember why my life is suddenly the way that it is now. Mom had cancer. We tried, but couldn't make it better. I was pregnant when she died. She didn't live long enough to meet Mary Anna. The brain must have these sort of mechanisms that prevent it from thinking of the whole thing all at once, otherwise I think one would simply collapse from the pain and sorrow. That is, if you were to really absorb all the individual and collective sadness of losing one, so loved, so close. It is a hole that cannot be filled with anything. Nothing. You just find a way to make that okay. Perhaps embellish a frame around the void with flowers, stitching, beauty, memories, stories, belongings, gifts. Until, eventually, there is an image there, a picture of that person. A picture of kindness and love and you can look at the framed portrait as you always would, in anticipation of being together again. A placeholder, reserved for that one cherished soul in your life that will never be like another.
But this soul. Oh how dear, perfect, and mild she is. Her pediatrician walked into my recovery room after his first look at her in the hospital and said, "I think she's beautiful and I think she's strong." We agreed. My heavy heart is made lighter continuously at the peace and sweetness she has brought into our lives. I've looked so deep into her eyes, searching. She seems to answer questions I cannot even formulate words for. She is her own, beautiful, exquisite little soul, and I wonder how I would tread these days without the focus of caring for her. Needing her to need me, and filling her hungers and her cries with every thing that I am. Everything that I am trying to be. I heard Tonja say it, after checking the monitor and calling the OB in, just seconds before this little girl was thrust into the world "you are just created for this, sweetie".
I am conscious of the gift of caring for this child in the midst of also caring for myself, the fragility of the two is just the same. I am so incredibly thankful that it is almost impossible to put into words. It is like pressing my lips against her tiny head, holding her tightly, closing my eyes and falling into a place that doesn't have any edges, or beginnings or endings, and thinking of my mother, and feeling the ever present reality of being the very physical link between these two beautiful lives. Just as I felt it when I bowed my head in tears, both thankful and sorrowful, and held my mother's hand with my right, and clutched my pregnant belly with the left and thanked God for being this person in between. Continuous and never ending family.
Her name itself, chosen several months ago, has been both title and narrative of our story.
Mary for my mother.
Anna for myself.
Louisa for her.
Mary meaning bitter.
Anna meaning grace.
Louisa meaning warrior.