I don’t often do two blogs in a day. But as I was sweeping up the sequins from the utility room floor (yesterday during Mommy Monday she taught all her friends a life-hack on how to make your own confetti cannon out of a loo roll and balloon), I remembered this story I had written in 2010. Right after my miscarriage and as I battled depression and anxiety.
Writing and PanKwake were my salvation then. My reason for going on. Why I refused to give up. I remember even then on my darkest day…there were moments. Moments of HAPPINESS.
One of my clearest memories is of being in the little park just outside our front door with PanKwake. She was three and running around playing and giggling. The sun was shining. Blue skies only a couple of puffy white clouds. The grass was freshly mowed and still had that smell. I inhaled and lifted my head, thinking…
You are depressed. Your marriage is practically over. You don’t feel welcome or safe in our own home. You have just lost a baby. You have no income of your own. And yet in THIS moment you are happy.
I held onto that moment…and others like it. And I kept fighting. I kept going. I kept trying. It took me several more months, but I managed to get out, to find us a place where we were safe…for a time.
Was that the end of my troubles?
By no means. Just a couple of months before meeting Cookie Monster my world came crashing down again. Even the home that I worked to make our refuge and fortress was violated. And again…I walked through the valley of the shadow of death as I call it. And this time…I knew my way out. My way to Cookie…and happiness.
So as I cleaned up those sequins and thought of #WorldMentalHealth day, I wanted to share this fictionalized account of my journey…and pray to the goddess that it bring hope to even one soul trapped in that valley of the shadow of death.
How many times had Sara heard it? ‘Don’t cry over spilt milk.’ She had probably said it a hundred of times over the past fifteen years of motherhood. But it was the rapidly withdrawing backside of her cherubic little angel and youngest child that had the words springing to mind this time. She knew that run. It meant only one thing: her daughter had gotten into some mischief and made a muddle of some sort. Sara had tried to teach her youngest child that it was not the messes in life that matter but how we handle them. But it seemed an uphill battle in a modern society that devalued children and rewarded those who lacked the imagination and creativity to make messes.
Shaking her head that at forty had almost as many grey hairs as blonde, Sara sighed in frustration as she headed into the living room from which her daughter had taken flight. In complete honesty whatever the mess, it was more her fault than her child’s. Despair had hung so thickly about her that morning as she lounged in bed watching her little angel sleep. She had known that they were late. She should have woken the child and gotten her ready for school. She knew that she had pressing work for a client and the half day at kindergarten would be an invaluable opportunity to focus. But she had simply lacked the will and energy to do so.
That was happening quite a bit lately. Despite weekly counselling sessions and a massive dose of Prozac, Sara could not seem to overcome the depression that dogged her every day and haunted her every dream. At moments, she feared that she would never find her way back from this dark place. She knew, of course, that divorce was a major life change that often plunged individuals into such despair. She tried in brighter moments to see the positive opportunities that this change offered her.
Her almost twenty year marriage had been comfortable at best. Since the birth of their oldest son over fifteen years ago, Sara knew that they had begun to grow apart. David, her almost ex-husband, had returned from work each day tired and burdened with the responsibilities of grownups. By mutual agreement, she had immersed herself in the mommy track. As an accountant, it was easy enough for her to work from home whenever she got the chance. They had both felt this was in the best interest of their growing family, especially after the birth of their second son three years later. Her world had centred on the boys, playgroups, sports and scouts. Then just as Trevor, their youngest, had entered school and they had begun to discuss Sara returning to the work force full-time; she had discovered that she was pregnant once again.
It had been a devastating blow at first. Sara had begun to actually look forward to the opportunity to escape from the Ford Explorer domain of soccer practice with its lips gloss, mascara on the run and baggy sweatshirt and jeans uniform. After four years in college and barely beginning her career with one of the top five firms, she had traded it all for David and the boys. It had been a wonderful decade too, but at thirty-five she was more than ready to return to long commutes, conference calls and late nights. They had even discussed having David’s recently widowed mother move in with them so the boys could continue to have a stable and active home life.
But those two blue lines on the home pregnancy stick had changed everything. It was most likely also the beginning of the end for the marriage. David was vehemently opposed to continuing the pregnancy, but after so many giggles, tiny steps and messes Sara could not bring herself to terminate the pregnancy, even if it was inconvenient and unplanned. It had been the right decision for her. From the moment she had seen the tiny, pink bow mouth of her daughter, it had been the most intense feeling of love she could imagine. Oh, she had always loved David, Davey and Trevor, but this tiny angel was different. There was some unexplainable bond that she felt from that moment when she first counted those tiny little fingers curled so tightly around her own.
The days had taken on a new pallor as she rushed David and the boys through the morning routine each day; packing their lunches, bundling them tightly against the bitter cold and kissing cheeks as she sent them to face the world. But then she would turn to chubby, giggling baby whose blue eyes followed her every move through this morning ritual. They would exchange a laugh, a hug and a kiss then they would together straighten the already immaculate two-story ranch house that had been her suburban palace for so long. The day would continue through Playhouse Disney and PBS; their favourite was, of course, Big Bird, but Dora the Explorer was certain to bring shrills of laughter as well.
Her clients had dwindled, but that gave her more time for what she loved most…motherhood. It seemed that her daughter’s birth had recharged her battery and re-awaken her love for her sons and husband as well. She had taken to watching cooking shows in the late afternoon while the baby slept. She had even tried her hand at the almost dead art form of quilting.
But it seemed the more attention and love she put into her home and family the more distant that David became. At first it was the occasional late night at the office, and then it was business trips that were two and sometimes three days. Finally, there was no denying the truth. Her husband was having an affair. Even then Sara did not give up on her marriage. She lost twenty pounds back to the size eight that she had been when they married. She dyed her hair that beginning to grey. She bought new, sexier clothes. But the more she tried the bigger the rift between them.
She had almost expected it when David had asked her to dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants. She had bought a stunning black dress that clung to the mature curves of her body like a second skin. She had had her hair and nails done at the mall. She had even visited the cosmetics counter at the over-priced department store; allowing the sales girl to professionally apply her make-up. More than one head had turned as she walked with her head held high into the bar that evening. For a moment, she had thought there was perhaps a chance as she caught a flicker of admiration and lust that had once shown so brightly in her husband’s blue-grey eyes. It was just an illusion though as David asked for a divorce over crème brulle, which happened to be her favourite dessert.
A wry smile turned up the corners of her lips as she looked about the living room then. Her little angel had been quite creative this morning while mommy was busy on the computer. The milk that had accompanied her morning snack of cookies and banana was dripping from the edge of coffee table onto the hard wood floor below. The banana was smushed into the floor in front of the television where the Imagination Movers were belting out their brainstorming theme song. To complete the picture, the trails of milk that raced across the floor were dancing in the morning sun light with the sparkling glitter that she had bought for their craft basket.
Sara thought for a moment about a time not so long ago when she would have screamed for Davey or Trevor to ‘get down those stairs right this minute.’ But time and experience had taught her not to cry over spilt milk even if it had jars of glitter mixed in. Her smile was genuine as she headed into the kitchen for a mop and bucket of sudsy water.
Sara was just finishing the last of the mopping up when she noticed the blonde curls and tear streaked face from around the edge of the couch. Curling her finger as she motioned for the child to join her, she opened her arms wide and welcomed the contrite embrace. They held one another for a couple of minutes before Sara helped the young girl to finish up the mopping. Together they watched as the milky white water sparkling with glitter drained down the sink. They made grill cheese sandwiched for lunch and returned to the living room to curl up together on the couch and watch as Diego saved another animal from certain doom.
‘Isn’t the glitter pretty on the floor?’ whispered her little angel as the commercials began.
Sara looked at the floor then realising that even the scrubbing had failed to get all of the glitter from the grooves between planks. They sparkled and danced as the weak winter sunlight drifted through the sheer curtain. She smiled and hugged her daughter tighter. It would be time for them to go and collect the boys from school soon. But for this single moment in time, she sat there and simply soaked in the joy of the glitter with which this little angel had gifted her.
‘Yes, sweetie, it is beautiful,’ she whispered as she kissed the top of her daughter’s soft curls. If only all life’s messes left such beauty behind.
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