On August 2nd my oldest daughter, Elizabeth, turned 20 years-old. It is hard to believe I have been a mother for over 20 years! 21 years ago after a sad miscarriage, my mothering journey began. Several months later, I became pregnant with and gave birth to Elizabeth. I then went on to have my son, Martin, my heavenly baby Margaret who was stillborn and then Winnie and Lila. Since motherhood began for me, I have had no road map as a person or as a mother. How could I have known 21 years ago that my loss of Margaret would propel me to focus on the healing of my family and of others who had lost babies? This has been my mission for the past 17 years; one I am proud of but one I could never have predicted. Over the years I have gone from teaching full-time to tutoring to staying at home full-time which allowed me the space to write my book, Journaling Away Mommy’s Grief. Since my book came out in 2011, I have gone around to hospitals and support groups to speak, interviewed on radio shows, connected with other moms who have lost babies and have done what I can to raise awareness of the importance of supporting these parents and families as they grieve.
Now, I am turning the compass on my life map that has no course and am possibly plunging back into teaching after a long hiatus. I have applications in to various places. As I hold my map, I marvel at myself being nervous. I have always been a risk taker and my husband will tell you that all of our living children take after me there! Taking risks can be great but now at 47, and mothering having been my focus, I am nervous to take a risk. I have invested so much time in my children; all of them, even Margaret. I have spent the bulk of each of my days being with and about them, but soon two will be gone and in four years another and then all of them! Thinking of Margaret actually comforts me as I go through this phase of letting go because she truly is already gone yet never has she been gone from my heart or mind. Similarly, my four others will be gone too, someday (in a much less devastating way of course), but never will they be far from my heart or text.
Today, August 13th is Margaret’s 17th birthday. Oddly, I feel a sadness of her leaving her childhood years; a childhood she never enjoyed and I never witnessed but I imagined it, ached for it, longed for it. One more year and she will reach the milestone of 18 meaning for me that the entirety of her lost childhood is over. In a way that milestone, like the milestone of my other children leaving the home will be bittersweet. I will ALWAYS miss her and long for her and miss watching her live but after 17 years of grieving and healing, I feel a bit like I will be able to let her go. I will begin to quiet my public voice and allow her to move on like her siblings. They will all be ready to cut that cord and be on their own. I will always be here for them if they need me; doing laundry, writing, cooking, rollerblading and looking for a job, a new place to focus my energy.
Happy Birthday Margaret! We will miss you blowing your candles out forever more. You are our princess in heaven. We all love you so much. May you have a beautiful and sunny birthday in heaven.