things I wish I'd said

The day after Christmas, Josh and I made a visit to some of our friends. These friends actually live in Las Vegas, but they are currently taking up residence at the Denver Children's Hospital for treatment for a high-risk pregnancy. This child is their first, and barely a month ago, they received a startling diagnosis for their baby boy. Both mother and babe underwent surgery right before Christmas, and for the foreseeable future, the hospital is "home."

Josh and I made this visit a priority, because we could hardly imagine what kind of a Christmas our friends must be having. We sat down in the playroom at the Ronald McDonald house next to the hospital and chatted and laughed and asked clinical questions about their son's condition. It was a pleasant visit. Despite the smiles and laughs, though, I could still sense our friends' shell-shock at what they'd been thrown into only weeks before. I could see the underlying fear, the fatigue, the helplessness. And there were things I wanted to say to them--to the mother--and didn't. So here I am, late at night, writing out those things that I wish I'd had the gumption to say in person.

A mother's heart changes your soul entirely. And it doesn't even matter the type of mother you are: one with a newborn, one with twins, one with a passel of school-aged kids, one battling infertility, one with an angel babe, one with teenagers, one with children grown, one with a high-risk pregnancy. Mothers' hearts wield fierce power for love and connection.

So when I see one mother hurting, I feel a small portion of that hurt in my own heart. And I don't feel for them, but with them. The soul of a mother can connect with the souls of other women in beautifully empathetic ways. I believe that women's capacity for empathy can have the power to lighten our burdens, because if other women agree to take upon themselves a portion of another's fear, uncertainty, or sorrow, then maybe--just maybe--the full brunt of the pain is lessened slightly for the woman hurting. A mother's heart is capable of sharing pain, so that no one has to be alone. A woman's heart is capable of carving a unique path of access to the Savior's grace.

I may not have experienced a high-risk pregnancy, as my friend currently is. And I certainly don't want to make any insensitive or thoughtless claims about things I haven't experienced. I will be bold enough, however, to say that I can understand that the emotions involved in such a situation must be intense and all-consuming. I can't have perfect empathy, but I can use what experience I do have to generate the best empathy I have to offer.

I can feel with her because I know the love she must have for her son. I know the love she has for her babe can't be unlike the fierce love I harbor for my own boy. I love my son so passionately, so thoroughly, so openly that my heart is spread wide. My heart is so vulnerable, so open to injury that it sometimes frightens me. Because I will never go back to that person I was before Asher entered our lives. My motherhood has changed me forever, and my friend's motherhood has changed her. And readers, that is a scary place to be sometimes.

I wanted to tell my friend that she's not alone, because her life is full of women who will choose to feel with her. Our hearts are primed for connection, and imagine the good we could do if we choose to connect and feel and even hurt for others. So friend, when you read this, know that I wanted to say more and I'm sorry I didn't. When I heard about your son and the pregnancy and the surgery, my heart ached. I know what it's like to care so deeply and passionately for a babe, so much that you feel helpless. I may not have experienced what you are experiencing, but I too have a mothers' heart. And that connection carries with it marvelous power for good. Our prayers are with you, your husband, your babe. And I'm sorry that I didn't say this sooner.


Celeste Weimer said...

Wow. This is one of the most beautifully written, emotion filled posts I've read. I totally agree. Its crazy but I was just thinking about this last night and today. How being aother changes your heart. I feel like being mom/wife has brought me the closest to God. I want to be a better person for my family. I love this Charlotte. You are amazing.

Cami! said...

This is the sweetest think I think I've ever read. I keep reading it over and over again and my tears just keep flowing. It meant the world to us when you guys came to see us, right in the middle of your family time and your Christmas festivities. And you are so, so right. I can't believe the outreach of love and support, from so many, many mothers. From closest family and friends, to people I knew years ago, to complete strangers. And I think so many mothers can imagine how it feels because I think so many fear something like this so much, and those feelings are very real. This was so beautiful and so touching and you are so very, very kind to think of us and take the time to write this. You are amazing. :)

Diana said...

I have been thinking about this so much recently. It seems so many of my friends are going through parenthood trials right now with hospitalized babes or scary pregnancies. Having been there myself I always appreciated so much when people felt WITH me instead of trying to tell me how it could be worse/ how it would get better. Mommy hood has made my heart so tender to these happenings... I can't even watch Disney movies any more without thinking about how the mom is feeling and tearing up. It's amazing how your heart can transform.

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