The thing about grief is we are all terrified of it happening to us and we’re devastated when it does–and then we go out of our way to pretend neither one of those things is true.
In the days after Callie’s birth I grieved the woman I once was. I grieved the loss of my somewhat carefree life. I aligned myself with the idea that this pain would be my constant never ending companion.
I grieved the baby I had lost–the one that lived in our hopes, dreams and imagination. I grieved that baby’s first steps, ballet recitals, and holding out my arms for her to run into them–a sparkly ball of glitter and tulle. I grieved watching her stand on her Daddy’s feet and pretending to “dance.” I grieved for the loss of that little foot and everything it signified.
I grieved for what Calle would never have–that “normal” life. Learning to walk and run. Sports, pool parties, dance recitals. Kicking off your flip flops and running through the sprinkler. Wearing two of the same shoes. I grieved for each of those moments.
And yes, I grieved the end of our perfect fairy tale story.
We had stepped through the doorway of the unknown–and I intrinsically knew what I had lost. I had that list of losses stacked up in my head and felt each of them like a blow to the heart.
At the time, I didn’t know that grief was not something that you complete but rather that you endure.
I didn’t know that there was no pushing through it to get to the other side but rather it’s an absorption.
And adjustment and acceptance.
It’s an element of yourself, an alteration of your entire being, and a new definition of self.
And thankfully, I didn’t yet know the beauty, the joy, the strength, the courage and the hope that lay on the other side of that realization. I didn’t know that what lay ahead of us was even better and more perfectly imperfect than I had imagined.
I didn’t yet know the honor or the privilege that I had been given by being chosen as Callie’s mama and advocate.
I didn’t yet know how powerful my voice could be.
I didn’t yet know that scars tell a story–of wars fought and battles won.
I didn’t know that you could truly get knocked down a million times and still come back up swinging.
I didn’t know that my best self didn’t show up until those extremely hard moments.
I didn’t know then that my heart was hurting because it was growing and stretching to make room for a love that I’d never known.
I didn’t understand that I needed to be broken to understand strength.
I didn’t understand that I had to know heartbreak to appreciate joy.
I had to navigate grief so I could understand…..