My Dearest Lily June,
While you’re napping, I’ll have to try and get this all down quickly. The story begins darkly, so please, have the patience to wait for the light.
Once upon a time, about a year ago last August, I was coming off of one of the hardest summers of my life. During the summer, my mother–your Grandma Raelyn–had gone in for surgery on her eyes, and they didn’t know how it would go. But without the surgery, given her advanced stage glaucoma, she would certainly go blind. My father–your Grandpa Edward– and his second wife were going through a messy divorce. He was in a state of shock and confusion and loss.
Worst of all, my sister and best friend–your Aunt Loren–had been in a very serious car accident when she was nine months pregnant. (She’d been in a hit and run on the highway, causing her pregnant belly to bang off of the steering wheel as her car slammed into a median at 80 miles per hour.) Your cousin–Sully–was going to make it, though no one knew then that the accident had caused him to be born with cerebral palsy.
What doctors did discover from the scans on my sister was a cyst caught in her brain. The impact had caused the cyst, but apparently, she had a congenital brain condition that caused a split between the two hemispheres in her brain. If the cyst had burst during that time, a neurologist had told her she could die. Luckily, a neurosurgical consult revealed that the cyst was draining on its own, and she wouldn’t even need a procedure to shrink or remove it, but the stress of the entire incident pushed her then husband over the edge. He beat her to within an inch of her life, and she used that last inch–and more strength than she even gives herself credit for–to call home for my mom to come get her and all three of her kids with that man.
So powerless to stop the pain and suffering of my family, I could only listen on phone call after phone call as we talked about my mother going blind, my father aging alone, my sister’s possible death. I fell into a deep despair. It was nothing compared to what my loved ones were going through, but your dad and I had lost a dream as well. After over four years of marriage, your dad’s mom–your Grandma Alison–had helped us with enough money that we were finally going to take a honeymoon. I wanted to see Scotland’s Isle of Skye.
But with everything else going on and everyone’s fates so up in the air, that dream had become all but impossible. We couldn’t leave the country–the first time either of us would have done so–when so many people needed your mommy. I had fallen into a rut in my life, with each day seeming so similar it depressed me. I’d stopped teaching, and with a job where I earned less money and respect, it felt as if nothing would ever change, at least not for the better. I was sure I wanted to die and started making terrible plans in my mind.
And then, one day in September, your dad was just sure. We both talked about it, and had been trying for months, but that one particular day, it was like there was magic in the air. He was certain it was time. So we did the test. And he was right.
It was you, little Lily, that the universe delivered to us in the lowest valley of some of our family’s darkest days.
Fast forward about a year later, and I find myself on Etsy buying us matching pajamas, the kind of cutesy action you won’t believe your dark-humored, sarcastic, cynical mommy would take. I am the Mama Bear, and you the Baby Bear, and I am ditching work today to stay home with you while your dad goes to the university where we’re both employed to conference with his students all day. And we are sitting on the sofa bed in the living room watching, of all things, first the movie Brave, the Disney tale about a mother and daughter from, you guessed it, Scotland. The film teaches, amongst other things, the importance of believing in magic and taking control of your own fate.
And then we put on The NeverEnding Story, a film from my own childhood all about how the “Nothing” comes in to destroy the realm of “Fantasia” because humans have stopped believing in their dreams. Lily, it’s true: A year ago today, I was succumbing to that Nothing. I didn’t have hope or faith. I believed whatever light had existed in my life had burned down to the nub.
And then you arrived, little Lily, and I can’t tell you how you’ve re-illuminated the world. Just a day like today, that I’ve dubbed our official Mommy Daughter PJ Day, is a day so simple but full of love that it becomes spectacular. It’s so much pressure to put on you, my wee bitty baby, but I think you may have saved me.
Even all the pain and heartache the pregnancy brought were the pebbles along the path to the top. I had been lost in a valley when your life gave me the motivation to climb back up to the peak of my dreams. Being a mom, being your mom, inspired me to write again, and to laugh, and to smile, and to sing and to get back–and to stay–on antidepressants, because Lily, you have given me so much to live for, to hope for, to dream of. I don’t have words for the view from up here, so I’ll just give you a picture:
- https://www.etsy.com/listing/235610261/mama-bear-and-baby-bear-matching-set?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=mama bear baby bear&ref=sr_gallery_26
- “Loch Fada Storr Skye restitch 2007-08-22” by Klaus with K – Self-made panoramic image assembled from own photos using the programs hugin and enblend.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loch_Fada_Storr_Skye_restitch_2007-08-22.jpg#/media/File:Loch_Fada_Storr_Skye_restitch_2007-08-22.jpg
- “Brave Poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brave_Poster.jpg#/media/File:Brave_Poster.jpg
- “Neverendingstoryposter”. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Neverendingstoryposter.jpg#/media/File:Neverendingstoryposter.jpg