I once dreamed of you, many years ago on a crisp fall day. I wasn’t more than nineteen years old and I had fallen asleep on the living room couch as the sun streamed in, catching the dust particles in the afternoon light, dancing and moving against and with one another. I remember my first recollection of you coming sometime later, as I was in that foggy space between awake and asleep; I felt a deep peace come over me and then the laughter of children was around me. It was as if I then saw you as one sees through a muddled glass – there were two of you and you were dancing and chasing one another, in a circle, around the room.
I remember feeling happy and having the desire to join in the fun you were having but as I opened my eyes and clearly looked, you were gone, I was alone. I laid on the couch allowing my feelings to be enveloped in the happiness that lingered in that room and the thought came, which crossed my mind so clearly, that it hadn’t been a dream at all, but a premonition, a gift of what was to come; the feeling that you were mine, that you were waiting to come, that it would all be okay.
For days after that experience I thought of nothing else. For days after a battle raged in my mind as I debated the veracity of what had happened. Did I really believe the worlds of heaven and earth were close in the way of visions and that God allowed those worlds to connect in time of great need? I went back and forth between believing you had come for a short visit from that adjacent world of spirits to put my troubled heart at ease, and thinking I was a crazy fool.
You see, I had struggled all of my young life in believing I was someone that could be loved, that I had enough value that someday I would get passed all the hurt of my younger years and know of the happiness love and motherhood could bring. My greatest fear from a young age was that something was deeply wrong with me and it would cause me to be unwanted all of my life. I wanted a family, a husband and children, to create a life with. I had been hurt by cruel people at a young age and struggled in my adolescence to be noticed by any boy, thus strengthening that belief that I was too damaged to be loved and you might never come to be.
Allowing my experience with you to be real helped me to hold on through some dark, dark days in the years that followed. That precious moment we shared gave me a hope to keep moving forward, that you needed me to make it because you were still my future. And oh, dear ones, the future I believed us to one day have was so beautiful. You see, I have always wanted you. I remember being as young as five years old and my mother asking me what I wanted to be when I got older and the answer was always: a mother. I was blessed with an amazing mother and I knew it from that young of an age – she was beautiful, funny, kind, and sweet and I wanted to be just like her.
I felt a deep love in my heart for children; I was that little girl that always wanted to hold any baby she was around. I loved the softness of a baby’s skin, the light in their eyes, and trying to make them laugh. Older women would tell me what a good mother I was going to be, would talk to me about how gentle I was and how I was already the “little mother” to those around me.
I thought of you. I dreamed of you and I couldn’t wait to grow up.
As I got older, however, I began to understand the reality in the difficulty of the task of motherhood. I would witness mothers as they sought to calm a screaming child; I would be out with my mom and hear parts of conversations about the lack of sleep, the worry, the staying up all night with sick children. I would take babysitting jobs and have a child scream for an hour after their parents had left and work hard in any way I could to calm the child. I could see that motherhood was going to be difficult but the moment I held and rocked a sleeping child, feeling its heavy weight against me as it trusted me completely, I knew any pain or difficulty was worth that feeling. I was in awe of how much I could love a child that wasn’t mine and thought how incredible it would be as I had often heard that love only increased as the child was one’s own.
Slowly, however, my hope in my dream of you becoming a reality began to falter and dwindle. I fought hard to keep that hope alive and many times I would fall back on our beautiful fall day experience and push forward, willing myself to keep believing. You see, I made plans for you both and our little family. I would watch mothers I admired and I would study them, hoping to learn how I could one day be the best kind of mother to you. The years began to move faster and sometimes my panic would increase as I still seemed to struggle in meeting anyone. I felt such deep shame at my inability to attract anyone to date me, to want to spend time with me. But I didn’t give up because I believed you to be waiting for me.
However, this past year that hope was changed into despair.
I had health problems and tests were run to show that even before I could get in the game, before I could find that love to start a family with, my chances of ever having you were over. In an instant, you were gone. In an instant, my hope in the experience we shared turned into the deep shame of foolishness. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have believed that small moment in time that had buoyed me up through so much pain and so many years was anything more than a silly dream, a trick of my mind?
I drowned in shame then, my little ones, and I grieved the loss of all I thought you were going to be. I have been so angry at that God I have always believed in, I have felt so betrayed. I didn’t realize I had planned so much for us. I have shed more tears this year than I thought was possible. I have witnessed mothers and children everywhere and felt a pang that could stop time. I have heard about so many moments, good and bad, and longed to be part of it all. Did I really have to once again be on the outside, looking in? I have laughed to myself as I wondered if you secretly heard the names my ten year old self came up with for you – Mercedes and Viper – and decided better of this whole me being your mom business; I don’t blame ya, kids, running is what you should do if those names are on the table but I have matured some and I pinky swear I have come up with better.
I have tried to find the funny in me not being your mom because some days that’s all I could do to make it through. But try as I might – you are a hard dream to kick.
I’ve had to let go of so much this year, so many ideas of what the future held– feeling your first little kicks in my belly, seeing your heartbeats on an ultrasound, hearing your first cries as you make your way into the world, rocking you to sleep, watching you take steps, being called mama, having your sticky jam hands work your way onto every surface a home has, and an infinity of other moments, both difficult and incredible. But none of those moments, my dear little ones, compare to the strain it is in having to let go of the dream of you that brought me hope those many years ago; the pure moment when I saw you in my mind’s eye, dancing and chasing one another and me getting up to join in the fun.
Some might say how silly I am to grieve what I never had, to feel this deeply over something I never grasped in the here and now; some might even believe this letter to you to be the ramblings of a crazy person but that’s okay. It’s only their opinion, it’s not my truth.
It’s okay because one thing I would have taught you is that people will say a lot of things about you, they will seek to dictate your life by their beliefs and seek to have an opinion on your feelings but that in the end, it doesn’t matter. I would have taught you that you get to decide what you feel and no one can take that from you; however, I would have wanted you to know that you can let go of pain, that honoring it doesn’t mean clinging to it so you see nothing else. I would have taught you what I was taught and what I have learned over my years thus far – there is strength in kindness, there is power in loving, even at the risk of being hurt.
I loved you without even knowing you. I loved the idea of you and because of that I have been changed for the better. My life has been so enriched just by seeking to be the best I could be, all in the hopes of me becoming who you needed me to be. I will never get over the pain of knowing I don’t get to be your mother, it will hit when I least expect it but that’s often when hurt waits to strike – another lesson I would have given anything to teach you. But it’s okay, I will let that pain in, dear ones, I will not run from it because I know it’s okay to feel. This past year and the loss of merely the idea of you has taught me that beautiful lesson. Thank you for that.