Once upon a time there was a girl who knew who she was and what she wanted.
She spoke with conviction and chose with intention.
The girl loved children and love and saw no reason to wait for either.
So she married her sweetheart and became a mother soon thereafter.
And though her assuredness had waned while her belly grew, it took only her daughter’s first long gaze to see it restored.
The girl mothered joyfully and in peace and with the confidence she had always known. She and her daughter shared an unbreakable bond, the same chin and curly blonde hair. Motherhood was harder than the girl had expected and as good as she knew it would be.
Then one day the girl hoped for another baby. And not too long after he came along. She could hardly believe her good fortune. She had a daughter and a son.
She brought her son home, eager to see him beside his sister. Eager to care for them both.
But the boy would not sleep nor would he eat and he became ill and she became ill too.
For months she failed as often as she tried and she wondered how this could feel so wrong when the first time felt so right.
The boy recovered and she did too and by the time he could walk and talk they had found their rhythm and each other.
She loved her new body and all it had done to grow her two babes. And she loved her husband with as much fire and passion as the year they’d begun.
She was reading and writing and running again and her children were healthy and she was happy and life was good.
But the happiness did not last.
She wished for just one more. One more babe and her nest would be full and they would all have each other and life would look just as it should.
So she put it all on hold and grew that babe and knew once he arrived she would return and all would be well.
But she did not return. And all was not well.
She had a son and he was here and he had survived when they did not know if he would. And she knew she should be only happy. Only grateful. But she wasn’t.
Her body hurt and her head spun and her heart ached. Caring for three tipped her scales and she could not get back on her feet.
And then one day, she and her family left their home with the hope of a new home. But the new home would not be theirs and this stretched into four long months of waiting and wondering and not knowing what would be.
Finally they settled and she exhaled and that is when she looked in the mirror and realized…she had disappeared.
She did not know who she was. She did not know what she wanted. Her body was not hers, this dream was not her dream.
She had everything she had once thought she wanted. But she did not want it anymore.
And this terrified her and confused her and left her broken and shaken to the core.
“How do I do this day when all I want is to run away??”
The question shamed her. She asked it every day.
This went on through the end of that year. She stayed because she had to. She tried vitamins and exercise and prayer and meditation. Through thick tears she asked the few who knew her most, “How do I find myself again? Where, oh where did I go?”
She had not even hope enough to believe the answer would come. It came anyway. On a morning in December.
She could not see herself but she could see the two pink lines. Two lines that meant another life growing in her belly. Two lines that changed it all.
Maybe it was a radical hormonal shift. Maybe it was the hand of the Divine. Maybe we will never know. But something about that day changed the girl and restored just enough of her that she began to recognize herself again. Something told her she was exactly where she was supposed to be. Something told her she was going to be OK.
And though she knew the road would be long, with the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth and caring for another newborn just ahead of her, she could see the other side.
It’s been over three years since I saw those two pink lines. The road has been long. But it has been good too.
Today I look in the mirror and I see myself again. A little older, yes, with more smile lines and a squishier belly. But its me. A softer, hopefully kinder, wiser version of me.
The year I disappeared shattered me. But the beauty of being shattered is that only grace can put you back together. And once you see that grace you know grace is all there is, all there was, all there can be.
That grace is what keeps me going each day. It is my blanket and my lifeline and my light when the earth looks dark.
I am so grateful to be here. So grateful for grace.
Life feels good on the other side.