Nine months I get to know her before I ever see her face, that perfect round face topped in downy black with serious eyes and delicate features, and though my sister warned me it might not happen, it was love at first sight.
Love before first sight.
I marvel: How could anyone not believe in God if they've carried a child from seed to fruit? I want to shout to anyone, everyone "Can't you see the miracle?!" because anyone and everyone seems to think birth is ordinary. I fight this urge to shake them awake, claw the scales from their eyes, so they can see, fully see the miracle!
But we all just go about our business and tuck the miracles under deep cover and miss, that in childbirth, we are the image of God, life begetting life. It's the closest taste of Divine.
I pity men in this.
The thrill of first movement. Watching my stomach swell then stretch so tight I can see fist and foot. Realization's dawn that the annoying staccato thumping my ribs is my baby having the hiccups! And then feeding her from my body--another miracle, another shout--"My body is manufacturing milk!" for crying out loud. IT'S A MIRACLE!
For all their strength and accomplishment and reasons to be lauded, not one man has ever conceived a child and given birth. I'll take that over peeing standing up any day.
Nine months I'm host to her body, 18 months I sustain her life, 19 years I mother this child. I teach and train. I praise and pray over. I listen to and learn from. I'm challenged and challenge.
Saturday I gave her wings...and let her go.
There is a time and this was the time, but even if it's the natural order of life, even if it is good and right and as it should be, an emotional eruption lodges in my throat and I hold it there. And it's not so hard to pretend happy because I am happy. For her. In spite of the void her departure leaves, I celebrate this time in her life where anything and everything is rife with possibility.
She sees through roses and I let her. Soon enough she'll see their wilt.
There is a time.
She's gifted me, although unintentionally: she builds shields that make it easy for both of us. I should thank her but I won't. My spirit is buoyant and I sense the prayers of an army, are they responsible?
Not only is there no tearful good-bye, there's hardly good-bye at all. A fortress.
* * * * *
I didn't expect it when it came, first in the produce aisle at Publix, then when I passed English muffins, again at the Pop Secret display. Her favorites. I grit my teeth and mind scream, "Not here!" I will not fall apart at the grocery store. Emotion passes.
Last night I'm cooking dinner and I reach for plates to set the table--a red one is on top, then yellow then green. Again, it sneaks up behind me and grabs me by the throat, squeezing reluctant tears. Her favorites are the red plates, and for half a second I want to bury them all at the bottom of the stack.
Instead I reach for one of each color, refusing this wake of sadness.
This season is good. It is right. It is cause for celebration not mourning!
There is a time.
Invisible, indestructible threads bind mother to child; to give birth means that as long as you have breath, a part of your heart beats outside your own body.
No man can know it. Science cannot duplicate it.
When a baby slips from the womb, a mother is born.
And so is another miracle.