I sat, sobbing, when Dr. Fox, found me. She was looking for me to let me know that Molly had been cleared to leave the hospital. Molly’s birth had been traumatic, and initially she was not expected to live. Despite the dismal prognosis, she recovered rapidly while I had succumbed to a staph infection. No one knew it yet for it wouldn’t be detected until later in the day when someone finally came to take my temperature. In the meantime I was experiencing rampant emotional shifts generated by hormones and infection, with sickening whole body pain and a dull heavy throbbing in the area of the episiotomy. My breasts turned into bricks overnight, rock hard and aching for release, but I could not will myself down the hall to the nursery, where an irritated nurse was already feeding Molly sticky formula to calm her desperate crying. The tiny bathroom was tiled in shades of beige and tan, a metal bar along the wall next to the toilet where I sat in my sitz bath, unable to stop crying. In this lowly setting came the most profound of insights. Dr. Fox sat patiently listening to the whole thing, allowing me to wail my pain into the air.
I had memories of being held by my mother just as I had held my own daughter, being looked at with the same love in my mother’s eyes as I had for Molly. I had never known this love. Was it there all along? How had I not known it? I sobbed at my blindness and ignorance; it was a loss of magnificent proportions, since it had only just been discovered. And I knew, saw and felt, that my grandmother had looked at my mother with the same love shining from her eyes, my mother tiny and pink in her hands, her heart shaped lips pursed ready for nursing, just like Molly’s had been this morning when I’d had to leave her in the nursery. I could see myself, stretching in my mother’s arms, held by love so deep and unyielding that I had not recognized it until this moment. The knowledge crashed into me, rocking me with its intensity. I could see, even feel, the long line of mothers winding their way back in time, each gazing lovingly at the next new infant, each related to me. Not only mothers. I saw that my father once held me, cooing, overcome with emotion, just as Larry had when holding Molly in intensive care. My grandparents held my father that very way, as had Larry’s parents, love streaming from their eyes.
Awed, I understood that the umbilicus that had attached Molly to me, continued through the outer reaches of time and space to my mother, her mother, ad infinitum, and through Molly, into her future children and their children. I experienced this most intimate attachment as an infinite highway coursing through all beings, chords connecting to everyone before and beyond us.
This I believe. We are all connected. The image of connectedness – an infinite, powerful and loving chord – sustains me, a reminder that we are more than just ourselves.
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