It’s the time of year where my mind and emotional body travel back in time where thoughts, feelings, and memories emerge about what was happening six years ago. It is as if I’m literally transported to the scenes of that time, so real are the sense memories as they float from the unconscious layer, where they normally reside, to consciousness as the anniversary date approaches.
My body remembers…
It’s Sunday, August 8th, 2004: I’m at my baby shower/ritual. Although my due date isn’t for another three weeks, I’ve sensed that my baby may arrive early and I’ve asked him to please wait until after my shower. I need these women to encircle me with their love and support, to infuse me with their prayers before I begin labor. I’m estranged from my mother and the pain is almost too much to bear; the only way I can do this is if I receive the support of my circle of women. My best friend’s mother is graciously hosting the event, and when I walk into her serene home in Venice, California, the home that I’ve walked into a thousand times since I was twelve years old, I want to cry. As my best friends gather around, sitting on couches and comfortable chairs (one of them days away from her own labor), I do cry. I miss my mother. I miss my grandmother, who passed away just a few months before I conceived. I wish they were here. The grief almost breaks me. I open and receive.
I’m not quite here. I’m here and not here. I’m in the liminal. I feel like I’m floating. I’m happy and sad at the same time. I’m disoriented, but also wholly present. The food is delicious: chicken salad, Greek salad, homemade bread, cherries. It’s exactly what my body needs and I’m able to enjoy it fully (a rare event in my pregnancy). It’s as if the food is infused with the love of the women who prepared it. It will get me through the first hours of labor. The food is mothering me. I need the mothering in any way I can receive it.
The shower ends (although I don’t want it to) and it’s time to attend our last childbirth class. Baby, please wait a little longer. There might be some information here that will serve me during labor. Oh, how can I do this without my mother? How is it possible that she’s not here? We complete the class and go home. Our dear friends, The Rappaports, are down from Chico, California with their nineteen month old daughter so that Lisa could attend the shower. We spend time together in the evening, then go to sleep.
I have no idea how close I am to meeting my baby. I have no idea how close I am to becoming a mother. But something inside me is ready.
I sit with my son who, at this moment six years ago, was just hours away from initiating his descent down my birth canal, our birth canal. He’s so big and so small. At six I can see him easily at twelve, and again at eighteen, just increments of thirds that don’t seem very far away. “You’re a third of the way there,” my Colorado Lisa says to me. And my heart breaks as it has broken countless times since my angel was born. It breaks from the almost unbearable confluence of joy and grief that seems to define this path called mothering.