Growing Wings

“Thank you for being here, Mom.”  The exhaustion in my daughter’s voice was echoed in her face.  The epidural had finally kicked in, and we were all feeling a sense of relief.  It was 5 a.m.  Her first contraction had hit at 1:20 the day before, as we were walking home from a lunch out.

I didn’t know what to say.

So many feelings were flooding me.  It didn’t seem like that long ago that I had laboured with her, pacing the hospital hallways, seeking relief in any way that I could.  Now my baby was having a baby.  It was a miracle to behold.

So I was feeling sentimental, and at the same time, wishing I could do it for her – taking her pain away.

I was in awe of the strength and courage she was showing, this young woman who as a child feared everything.   She cursed a few times, and moaned as the pain wrapped around her and squeezed relentlessly, but not once did she complain, or wish it away.  From somewhere inside her she had harnessed a determination to see this trial through, and her focus was admirable.  I could not be more proud.

I knew what awaited her at the end of this journey.  I knew all about the indescribable bliss and wonder that fills you the moment that baby emerges and is placed in your arms.  I understood how in that moment there is an instantaneous shift of realization that this new little being is totally dependent on you.    I couldn’t tell her, but she would experience it soon enough.

And I couldn’t tell her that my presence on this sacred occasion was no burden to me, but an incredible gift.  She could never know how grateful I was to her, and especially the baby’s father, that they had invited me here to witness this sacred event.

So, I smiled and squeezed her hand, and stroked her face, and reassured her that it would all be over soon, and bit the inside of my cheek to stop my own flood of emotion from pouring forth.

Somewhere along the way, my baby had become a woman, and as I bore witness, she grew wings and took on her mission with grace and dignity:  ascending to motherhood without looking back.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.