the space

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The other day, I took a step. A leap. I attended a retreat with my colleagues. The first interaction I would have with many of them, despite my hope to have seen them sooner. Anxiety in tow, I absorbed the smiles, the hellos, and the silence. I fought through the how are you greetings and the small talk. I understood it was not easy for people to speak to me. I struggled, but gave them this grace with the hope that with time, they would figure out their own way of acknowledging my son. For many, it did not come that day. However, I am so thankful for the few who did offer hugs and loving words. Through their actions, these people allowed my son to be present.

The first talk was about engagement. Human connection. The value and importance of being present in the moment. Reflection. Themes that I have spent a lot of time with.

Think of a meaningful moment in your life. Write it down and describe it. Read to partners. Aim to understand the experience more, exploring why it was engaging to you.

I sat. The blank page sitting on the table in front of me. I let the emotions build, but did not allow them to escape. I wanted to share. I so desperately yearned to. I wanted the space I needed to do so. A piece of paper was not enough. I needed an ear, an open heart, and some human compassion. Someone to really listen to me. In that moment, I did not feel comfortable to share my voice, nor my story.

So I left. My anxiety picked me up and took me for a walk in the forest. I cried. I wailed. I missed my son. He was with me, but I wanted him to be there with everyone. I wanted to be granted the space for him to still be present with me. I wanted to be asked a question. To hear his name. I wanted recognition of my love, my pride, and of my sadness, too. I wanted the acknowledgement of his existence.

This activity was not difficult. I have spent 10 months understanding the experience of parenthood and the value of a moment. The activity was written for me. I had a moment more meaningful than one I likely would have shared before Owen was born.

Three hours after my son was born, I still had not seen him. I had no idea what he looked like. What he smelled like. What he felt like to hold. I needed him. It was decided that I would be moved to a private room in the maternity ward. En route to my room, we passed the paramedics pushing a portable incubator down the hallway. It was my son. I will forever remember the moment I saw him, the first time I touched him, the emotions overwhelming any of the medication’s efforts. The happy tears as a mother’s touch met her son’s clenched fist, gently caressing his tiny fingers, uttering a hello. The texture of his skin, the peaceful nature of a baby needing to rest, the warmth of my eyes. I remember these things vividly. It was a very special moment. I never want to forget it. 

This was the moment I wanted to share had I felt that I had the space. The moment I learned how much love was possible. A gift I will always carry from my son.

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