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 โ€˜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.



85 thoughts on “The Slaying of the Dragon

  1. The hope is always there.

    I really hope that she’s just waiting until she can enunciate ALL of the swear words correctly before she unleashes them on you.

  2. oh, this one hurts. i send support and love, strength and best wishes for you both.
    i also became a new person after my first daughter’s traumatic birth.
    much love your way.

  3. I, too, am sending you lots of hugs and love and support through the ether. You’re amazing, and you’ll come through this stronger than you are now. And so will beautiful Amelia.

  4. A very beautifully written post, Becky. You will both face that dragon bravely, and I think Amelia will astonish you with all that she can, and will do.

  5. Mimi is going to kick that dragon’s ass, with her Mama right beside her, and all these other Mama’s and friends right behind her!

    I will be thinking of you today, and sending all kinds of dragon slaying vibes your way.

  6. I’ve been watching from afar lately, and I’m so sorry for that, but you’ve been in my thoughts. As a mom who has also witnessed a child struggle, listened to lists of what he may or may not do, screamed at the Heavens – my heart goes to you.

    You can do this. And she will shine bright because of it.

    Love and peace.

  7. Slay that dragon well and fully but hold the shards of your former self close and with gentle care. As gone as she may be, her bits are as much a part of you as your bones and blood and, only by staking a claim on those remains, will you be whole.

    Thinking of you, your beautiful daughter and The Daver and boys right now at this moment and throughout the day today.

  8. Slay that dragon well and fully but hold the shards of your former self close and with gentle care. As gone as she may be, her bits are as much a part of you as your bones and blood and, only by staking a claim on those remains, will you be whole.

    Thinking of you, your beautiful daughter and The Daver and boys right now at this moment and throughout the day today.

  9. awwwww….another beautiful picture! Kick that dragon in the balls little Princess of the Bells! Yes, sometimes it just hurts, but you Aunt Becky are strong and full of light and love….the darkness doesn’t stand a chance.

  10. Beautifully written….. pain hollows out space for joy, so they say. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that. But when I see the pic of you and Amelia now, it screams out loud and clear!

    Enjoy being born and stitched back together in a way that matches up your heart and your head:)

  11. Even with a binky in her mouth, Mimi radiates determination. No matter what, she will amaze you with her accomplishments. Love and hugs to you and your family at this stressful time.

  12. I love it when you’re funny.

    but you’re also the most lovely wordsmith. when you pull out the lovely, it’s an extra special treat.

    now go slay the dragon.

  13. I still think she’s just figured out that there’s no point in trying to get a word in edgewise with her mother, so she’s taken the path her father does.

    Thinking of you.

  14. Such gorgeous writing. There is more than one slayer in this family.

    That sounded like something a fanboy would write on a Buffy fan page, but I hope you know what I mean.

  15. As challenging as today will be for you, I’d much rather read about you *and* Amelia facing those halls TOGETHER. When you look into the eyes that mirror your own, just know that this little girl is your destiny…EMBRACE it and her with all you’ve got! Much love and strength to you all. XOXO

  16. damnit woman! You made me cry in a Starbucks. People are looking. sigh.

    oh my heart, this is a beautiful post. (((((((((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))) to you and your beautiful little girl.

  17. That’s one of my favorite sayings – sometimes, you slay the dragon; sometimes the dragon slays you.

    The world fell out from under me, too. It went slower for me than you, but it fell away. I’m still finding my way back, creating a new normal.

    And sometimes, it just hurts. It just fucking hurts.

    You are a bad ass mama with a bad ass daughter. No doubt about that.

  18. Go kick some ever lovin dragon and speech ass Amelia! They are no match for you and Aunt Becky(aka your Mom!)

    Becky, remember the db mom motto during times of stress, taken right from Dory’s fishlips, “…just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

  19. During the last six weeks of my last pregnancy, I began to feel that my number had come up, that things were not as they should be, and that my life was going to change. I made myself stay calm, though. When I saw my little 6 lb. boy, I knew I had been right. He was born 6 weeks early for a reason. It gave him a jump on an rx regimen that was to last for the rest of his life.
    He is an adult now. He is happy, sweet, loving, a hard worker, with an above average i.q.. When he was young, his goal was to be 5’4″. He is 6 feet tall. The doctors had given him a 50/50 chance of having an i.q.or 90. He has mild neurological issues that we deal with on a day to day basis, but over all, I think the dragon lost.

    Never give up.

  20. Hugs.

    Isn’t it funny how you process the universe after…”events”? I’ve actually taken some comfort in the randomness of the universe – because otherwise G-d is surely out to get me. And, totally paradoxically, my daughter, special needs and surgeries writ large, is the only evidence I’ve ever accepted that he might exist. (guess that should be a ‘He’. or ‘She’? See? Am still on the fence).

  21. Add this one to your growing pile of beautifully written stuff Aunt Becky. You know I send you all the love and light to help you slay that dragon, or ghost of misery past. Whatever small amount of strength I can add to your arsenal, it is all yours. I am so rooting for little Mimi, princess of the Bells. I hope that they will tell you something that lightens your tremendous burden of worries, just a little bit.

  22. I don’t know what the old Becky was like but damned if new Becky isn’t one of the most gifted writers and kick ass moms I have ever run across. I don’t know when it will happen but I have no doubt that between you and Amelia that dragon will one day be cowering in a heap in the corner.

    Much love and prayers to all of you.

  23. If I could, I’d sit there with you. Bunny’s 2yrs 2months – I’d like someone to just sit with me, if I was you. So… I’m sitting… with you… although I’m here in SA.

  24. At Maternal Coat I commend your blog. Please accept my my admiration and my prayers for you like fireflies sparkle the night, with gentle whispers to lift you and to craft your Princess of the Bells a new tiara of light.

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