I have been contemplating whether or not I was going to write today; anxiety answered for me, much to my intense dismay…
I’ve been considering what is underneath this looming feeling of panic, and breathlessness, and given what day it is today, the acknowledgement and fault should go to my mother. The reason I don’t automatically admit my understanding of such a seemingly obvious cause is that today is the day my first child was born. A celebratory day. One of the most beautiful moments of my entire life.
Everyone tells me, easily, that her birth should vastly overshadow my mother’s death. That God gave me a gift today that, “takes a hard day and makes it beautiful”. I don’t think negatively about others when they say this to me, after all I have said those exact words myself to describe this day. . . The problem is, however, I am not sure it is true – for me. Not yet, perhaps … not ever – but I can still hope.
Honestly, I hate that I feel the way that I do. I hate that it has been eleven years already. I hate that she is gone, and I hate that I can remember it all too well.
Layla was born eleven days past her due date. My first child, that is normal… I remember my doctor telling me that if I didn’t have her by Monday, we would induce that day. I went home that Friday and it hit me, in the coming hours, that if I did not have this baby before Monday, she would be born on the day my mom passed away. I remember crying at this realization, thinking it was such a grand gesture from God to orchestrate such a thing – surely, it would not come to that, because for me it rarely does that pain triumphs beauty. That day was to always be my mother’s day – it was to always be the one day of the year I can openly grieve her death and nobody can pity me for it.
The weekend slowly passed and Sunday night I paced. I prayed. I cried. Then, at literally 12am, midnight, on January 19th, my water broke.
God makes His plans…
I remember laboring with her in that hospital room. I remember praying for the strength she had when she bore me and my siblings – drug free, believing in her body, even at the age of 16 when she had her first child. I remember the photograph I held in my hand of my mom in a hospital bed, in labor with my little brother. I remember the cross that sat on the bedside table, because I needed God with me because she was not.
My daughter’s birth was exceptional. The moment she layed in my arms, I felt a fire burn inside me that has yet to dim. Motherhood. A daughter. My baby girl…
This on the day my own mother breathed her last breathe, 3 years before.
Now it is eleven years since that night. 8 years since that afternoon when she was named Layla Samaya Roberta. . .
Roberta, my mother, must have nudged Him. I like to think she did…
Even so, I am a bit uneased by it, and I can’t help but to smile through my tears, gazing heavenward to chuckle with them both as I watch my 8-year-old baby girl grow.
The hardest part about this day for me is that I do feel guilty and shameful that I still grieve my mother. People say that it is such a blessing. Such a beautiful gift from God, my sweet Layla coming today. I feel like in light of that, I have to hold my breathe and smile along, and any hint of sadness has to be shoved deep inside me.
Really, it is quite difficult.
I prayed this morning, as I made pancakes for the girls, that I would find peace here. That I would honor what was, and be present with what is, and give this to God. After all, wasn’t He the one who arranged this? From her last breathe to my daughter’s first.
Just – why? I sigh now…
Perhaps it is just another thing I won’t understand until He tells me Himself when I look around me and once again see her face.
I miss her. I miss who she was to me as a child. I miss her laughter. Her boisterous presence when she was feeling happy and brought that into every room she entered. Her soft skin. Her fingernails with chipped nail polish and her hands covered in paint from the home improvement store. Her dinners of perfectly cooked rice and BBQ chicken with secret sauce. Her being my Mama – every deep, satisfying, and natural thing that represented. . . When she loved me… When she loved herself.
Eleven years, and I still remember this day like recalling every detail of a dream having just roused from sleep. It is all there, just some parts fade over time. I’d go back and change so much – but eleven years proves that desire is fruitless and futile; a waste of my emotional and mental space.
8 years, and I still remember that day like it was yesterday. Every detail is clear. I remember her button nose and wrinkly skin. I remember counting her toes and kissing her fingers. I remember breathing her in and feeling purpose flood my life. I remember feeling grateful that she was here, in my embrace, and in those following moments, a difficult day did become brighter than the sun. . .
But the brightness of her coming has dimmed and shadows of the past are all around me now.
I hope as she grows and realizes what this day is for me, personally, she does not resent me for this struggle. A hardship she won’t understand, and cannot, until I too die.
So, I have nothing left to say…
Happy Birthday, my sweet baby girl. I love you more than I can say today. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll give you 1012 words.