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Her Sunshine and Mine

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A self-described control freak, my inability to maintain jurisdiction over my reproductive functions, sent me into a tailspin. As a high school and collegiate tennis player, I had been fit and athletic, most of my life, but my health floundered under the crushing blow of depression, swept in and preserved by my infertility. I sought alcohol and food to provide me comfort and distraction from my life gone adrift. I would sleep it off, the pain, the longing, the losses. With each passing week the scale inched higher, and my fit, athletic 5’6” frame disappeared under a heavy suit of apathy, as I ballooned from 145 lbs to 190 lbs in just over a year.

I too often disregarded my husband’s pain, as I isolated myself further. At times, the dark cloud of depression would lift, and his persistence and constant love would be rewarded with a glimpse of the woman I used to be. The woman I could be again. She was there somewhere, under all the pain, that happy, sunny girl.

As a child, my grandmother would call me “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”; A nod to both the lively, curious, and joyful heroine of the novel and to my timely birth, merely one week following the death of my grandfather Charles Warner Poth. She would claim my premature birth transpired out of necessity, to bring the sunshine back to their lives. Indeed, I was a happy and joyful child, and the bond I shared with my grandmother was truly a unique one. A college educated world traveler, teacher, and mother of four, blessed with 2 additional decade long relationships following the death of her husband, my grandmother was an inspirational figure in my life and the guiding force for the formation of my own hopes and dreams for the future. She never seemed to let life and its complexities get her down. Through some great losses and struggles, she never broke under the weight and maintained a positive outlook for the future. In suspense of judgement, she would sit for hours over cards and dinner listening to my laundry list of objections to how my life was not working out as I had planned. From my complicated relationships with both my over involved mother and under involved father and devastating breakups in my young adulthood to my demoralizing struggle with miscarriage, infertility, and depression, she was my rock. She was the steel thread that kept me tethered to my loving mother, when I, as a teenager fought cruelly, like hell to cast her from my life.  “She is your mother, and she will love you forever. She only wants what is best for you. You will be a mother one day,” she would reassure me confidently, “Then you will understand.”

As with most things, she was right on both accounts. I am a mother now, and my mother and I continue to rebuild our relationship in the spirit of understanding, forgiveness, and compassion. I was blessed to have 30 years with my “grandma”, my second mother, spinning stories of what my children would be like, the places we would travel. I really don’t know what else I could possibly expect from the universe. We had her for so long, but she never did get to meet my son Charlie, though I see her in his smile and zest for adventure. She would have loved him. We lost that beautiful, amazing soul, Mary Ellen Poth the Thanksgiving before I would become pregnant. In those last few months, she had become a shadow of herself. The light had faded, and I feared it gone. However, in keeping with her quest to be what I needed, she joined me for lunch with a rare, perfect mental clarity just days before she died. That was the last time I saw her, and I am so thankful for that one last gift. I was in Vermont celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, when I received the call from my mother, that my grandmother had passed quietly. As though her spirit had been transferred into me to provide the much needed strength I needed to move forward, I ditched the alcohol and junk food and joined a gym determined to get my body back in shape for the baby she promised would come. I don’t know what fed her eternal optimism regarding my journey towards motherhood, but I’m thankful every day to her for keeping the flame lit when I was wandering in the dark depths of despair. Her words and wisdom provided me the strength and guidance I needed to push through another round of fertility treatments. I imagine that she went to fetch my son for us, prepare him for arrival, and set him back on the path from which he had strayed. He is my sunshine lighting the darkness of loss, as I was hers.

Wishing you all PEACE, LOVE, & BABY DUST.

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