End of a Season

Friday, January 3, 2014

A month or so back, a few weeks before delivering my second child, I pulled the drapes shut, climbed into bed, opened my mouth, and, like a snake, swallowed the end of the year. It sat undigested in my throat, bony and twitching. I kept putting my hands to my ears, as though to block out the noise of it, scratching away. It would not go down.

I am not good at waiting. Not for the arrival of a baby that I wanted so badly it made my eyes burn. Not for the end of a year laced with enough discomfort to make a dove squawk. My body doesn't do pregnancy. My entire physical body chafes against the presence of another person inside me. It starts vomiting right at six weeks and keeps it up for another eight months. It brings me to my knees with fatigue. It literally begins to pull me apart, so that things like walking or turning over in bed become excruciating.

In the end I just feel, instead of bursting with the presence of a six-pound person inside me, empty. I have been wrung out. I live in a body that feels like a house in the aftermath of a hurricane.

I sat inside of that house for the last month, remembering where things used to be. Before the waves came and picked things up and deposited them in unexpected places. One does not sustain another person's life for nine months and then deliver it into the world without rearranging the furniture, so to speak. It is most obvious in my physical body, of course: there is a softening there, but there is also scarring, which you may view through the glass of "motherhood makes you beautiful"--or not. Similarly, my emotional self has also been rearranged: softened, yes, and also scarred, in places. There are pieces of myself I simply don't recognize anymore, they have come so far from the origin point.

Thinking about it all now, though, I'm not really certain I miss the way things used to be. I certainly wouldn't go back, not for anything. Scarring and all. Whether I find it beautiful--or not.

In any case, it has been difficult for me lately to do anything other than take in. I absorbed the end of the year, watching and waiting and trying to enjoy the lights and music and teetering on the brink of major life change. This means, basically, that my writing life ground to a halt for a while. In a strange way, I felt like this child absorbed my energy over nine months, beginning with the physical, then moving to the emotional, and finally, in that last month, she took the creative, the intellectual. I sat and rested. I filled myself with as much beauty as I could, hoping it would pass through the umbilical cord to my daughter. But there was nothing left, at the end of the day, to put on the page.

I told myself often that this was a season of life. That it was no reason to panic or despair. That writing would return to me, once the storm quieted, moved on. I would find it beneath the debris, undamaged though changed.

Now that she rests not in my body but in my lap, I am hopeful that the season, like the year, will turn over and become new again.

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