Dear Devastated Mama,
I can’t imagine your pain. It goes without saying that I hope I never have to feel your pain, of course. As it stands, I have safe and healthy children, and I still find myself lying awake terrorized by the “what ifs” and the possibility that their health may ever be out of my control. I used to live in a world of blissful ignorance where the idea of my babies not growing up to be adults was just absolutely not an option – but then I saw you, devastated mama.
I saw the strength it took for you to share updates and pictures of the most vulnerable parts of your journey. I saw you make impossible sacrifices and even more impossible decisions. I saw you fight with every ounce of your being to hang on tight, while gracefully letting go of what you couldn’t control at the same time. I saw you open your eyes in the morning and go to battle with the demons you were facing every single day. I saw you crumble and rise back up, driven only by the love a mother has for her baby. I saw your inner turmoil through the brave smiles. I saw you then, and I see you now.
I know we don’t have much in common right now, mama. I’m painfully aware of how little of your battle I truly understand. I know that we only see what you allow us to see, and then we get to turn right around to our much easier lives and carry on. I lay awake thinking about the awful, scary things while you have to live through the awful, scary things. We don’t have much in common, and I’m definitely on the greener side of that pasture, but I haven’t forgotten you. My mind wanders to you frequently throughout the day. I find my eyes filling with tears thinking about what you must be feeling, what you must be missing. I think of you when I’m wading through the chaos of motherhood and wondering when was the last time your day was the good kind of chaos – filled with busy children, laughter, and messes. I know you must miss the chaos that was replaced by this new life of yours, the one you didn’t ask for.
From the most selfish of perspectives, your fight has made me a much better mom. I don’t dare take more than one step into self-pity before I remember you. I don’t revel in the frustration of the small things without thinking of what you would give to be frustrated by the small things again. I bet you miss breaking up fights between your children. I bet you would gladly wake up at all hours of the night to hold your healthy baby again, just because they missed you. It is because of you that I will treasure every moment – good, bad, or indifferent – of motherhood. I see you, and I remember how quickly life can change. I see you, and I remember that these days are fleeting and someday I will ache at the memory of them. It is because of you, sweet mama, that I will try a little bit harder and love a little bit longer. I know it must feel like you’re hanging on by a thread. I know it must feel that everything you’ve worked so hard to create is suddenly unraveling at every turn. I know this isn’t fair. But, I also know that even through your heartbreak, you’re making a difference. You probably don’t feel it, but you’re changing lives with your strength. I know this because you’ve changed one mama already: Me.
I don’t know where you pull the grit and strength from to make it through each day. When I think of myself in your shoes, I imagine myself melting into a puddle of despair. I know that’s not how it works as a mama and that you move forward because you have to. But, I still wonder how you manage to put one foot in front of the other. I wonder where you find the words to share the updates or to let us in on your devastation. I don’t know how you do it, but I find myself searching for your words. I read and re-read them over and over with hopes that maybe I can change things for you just by soaking in each word you write a little longer. I refresh your page, hoping that the next update will be better; the next update will be the happy ending leading you back to your normal life. I don’t know how you’re still standing – but I hope you know that you’re not standing alone. There is an extension of silent support that exists that doesn’t have questions or expectations; they don’t need a reason to show up, because they are already there. This support team is from us, the other moms, the ones that have walked your path, and the ones that haven’t stepped foot on it. We are all here, standing with you in spirit and person.
I know these days aren’t what you asked for, mama, and I’m so sorry you’re here. But when you feel like you can’t stand up to fight another day, when the loss seems too great, when the decisions seem too hard – we will be here. And I hope you know that there doesn’t have to be a formal introduction with handshakes to have us in your corner. We don’t have to exchange pleasantries on occasion to care about your story – to care about you. There aren’t guidelines in motherhood, we make our own rules and more importantly we support our own people.
Your story may be different than mine, mama. Perhaps you’ve already experienced great loss; perhaps you’re walking through unimaginable circumstances right now. We are sitting on opposite sides of the motherhood table right now, one of us certainly being tested more than the other, and I know it’s not fair. I wish there were profound words of comfort to offer. I wish I could change the path you’re on. I wish I could do more. But above all, I wish you would see yourself the way that I see you: Unshakeable.