There she is.
Do you see her?
She seems familiar, yet you struggle to recognize this woman. Her cheeks are red and stained, her body—worn and scarred.
She stares back at you. The sparkle drains from her eyes as she silently pleads for you to acknowledge her motherhood.
She is jaded. She has seen the world as it truly is—unfair and callous. Her protective veil of innocence torn away, only to be replaced by grief’s shroud of guilt and jealousy. She has fallen into a life filled with monsters and nightmares, a place where families lose their children, a hell that feeds off the blissful dreams of parenthood.
She has unwillingly befriended grief, often collapsing under its weight. She has come to resent the games it plays, the way it holds her mind hostage and twists her brain with lies.
Her dreams have been sacrificed, unwillingly ripped from her grasp. Instead, she holds the pieces of her past and future, scrambled and broken, unable to ever truly be put together the way they originally existed.
She no longer measures time in hours or minutes, but in the breaths she has until she meets her sweet child again.
She has lost track of all the tears that have been shed. Each cascading tear, a tribute to her baby, a lullaby that only a grieving mother can sing. Each a reminder of the sorrow, love, and pride that has been left behind.
She no longer worries about the little things, realizing now what’s important. Friends and family have been pushed away while others pulled closer. She has had to try to find protection in a society that pushes her to quickly move beyond her pain, deny her grief, and strive for acceptance. They don’t understand there is no acceptance with child loss—solace, perhaps, but not true acceptance.
She has allowed herself to dance with darkness before surrendering to the shadows—exposed and raw. She has stared death in the face and asked to have her child back, only to time and time again hear the same response . . . “No.”
She’s gone deaf from the sound of shock; the deafening sound of a child’s heartbeat silenced. She’s been muted from stifling her screams and anger and bitterness toward those who experience the joy she so desperately craves.
She has lain in bed and watched the chaos sway in the moonlight, struggling to breathe as anxiety pounds through her veins. She is tired. Exhausted. The kind of tired that cannot be remedied by any amount of sleep.
Can you see her now?
Yes. You see how she has been broken and rebuilt. Shattered. Dragged to the brink of death. Her heart ripped out, and yet, she continues to breathe. This is a woman reshaped by an impossible pain, longing to be normal though aware she will always remain a shadow of her former self.
With time, she has relearned to laugh and trust in love again. But look closely, you will still see the ache that lingers in her eyes—an ache that yearns for the irreplaceable missing piece of her heart.
She’s risen from the ashes clinging to shards of hope. There is beauty and grace in her strength, yet she doesn’t know where it comes from. She will humbly tell you she prefers to not be called brave or strong or an inspiration. She never asked to be those things. She is merely just trying to live. There is no other choice; this is what her survival looks like.
She gazes eagerly at the sky scanning the clouds, the sunsets, and the stars for a glimpse of her heart.
She listens to the wind and hopes to hear her child’s name whispered in her ear. And in those gentle moments, she wonders if her baby is somewhere searching for her too.
She can see her story is not over and new dreams cautiously emerge. She finds the courage to follow her heart and live for her child no matter how far apart they are. She has been transformed by love. Theirs is a love that cannot be stolen by death. It is as infinite as it is powerful; it stretches past forever and leaves her breathless.
Yes, you see her now. The woman who walks with an angel by her side.
You recognize her now—the woman staring back at you in the mirror. She is different from who she was before. Yes, some days it’s hard to accept she’s irrevocably changed, but you love her nonetheless for all that she is and all that she has become.
Originally published on Still Standing Magazine