The old me died in a puddle of tears on that birthing table as my daughter whisked freshly from my body was clucked over and examined and I was left paralyzed from the waist down, terrified and alone. I was reborn into a new world where all of my old besties and allies were no longer at my side, where my husband was gone, and where I was, again, alone against the world.
It’s not terribly different, I guess, than how any of us are born, it’s just that I was older and not covered with that cheese-type stuff (say it with me now, Pranksters, thank GOD!).
For eighteen months now, I’ve carefully picked up the pieces of who I was and assembled them back into a reasonable representation of who I am now. I discarded some of the old things I didn’t need: the anger that I’d held onto for so long and the inability to let people in and the long-held opinion that I didn’t need anyone but myself to be happy.
In turn, I’ve added some new things that I think I always needed but didn’t realize: I’m warmer, more loving and I’m more thankful of the people who do love me. There are bad things woven in there too, of course. You don’t go through major traumas without picking up some hell along the way. The darkness inside me is heavy sometimes. Sometimes I wonder if it’s more than I can bear.
These shards of who I am now are stitched loosely together with the belief that the universe is far less random than I’d ever thought it was and that someday, it’ll all make more sense. I have to cling to that idea or I’d probably go crazy and shave my head and tattoo a fire-breathing scorpion on it.
Monday morning, I will go back to the place that I was born. Not Highland Park Hospital, where on July 15, 1980, Rebecca Elizabeth Sherrick* was born, but Central DuPage Hospital, where Becky Sherrick Harks was born on January 28, 2009. I haven’t been back since her surgery.
My daughter, her curls like a halo, finally masking the scar that bisects the back of her whole head, she and I will march into the place where we were both born on the very same day. My ghosts will roam the halls with us, carefully holding my hand, gently guiding me find the place where I will take my daughter to help her find her words.
I hope that when I pass the ghost of myself in the hall I can send her a hug; some silent signal of strength from her future self. Because while the darkness is omnipresent, the sadness an integral part, there is always hope. I hope that she knows that the future is large and that while she will rage, trying to fit in to a world that no longer exists, in all that she has lost, there will be more that she gains.
Monday, the flowers in the vase on the desk will be fresh, and the volunteers will smile, confused by the visibly upset young woman and her beautiful daughter. They will not understand that sometimes, it just hurts.
They will not understand that sometimes, you slay the dragon.
Sometimes the dragon slays you.
Today, Amelia, Princess of the Bells**, she and I will slay my dragon.
*what? You didn’t think my parents named me Aunt Becky, did you?
**Amelia, by my amazing friend the Star Crossed Writer
An army stands ten thousand strong and tall,
But you shall rise above the bloody fray
And rain down vengeance ‘pon your enemies
And all those who would stand against your will.
When darkness threatens fainter hearts than yours
And calls ring out for champions to arise,
The cries will cease and everyone will see
Amelia, the Princess of the Bells.