Sometimes, on my way to or from work I walk past a park with a playground and when the weather is good (which it has been for a while now) the park is full of mothers and toddlers and children no older than nine (my estimate). I enjoy listening to the children scream with glee as they scamper down the slide (sometimes on all fours, funny monkeys!) and reach for the clouds from the seat of the swings.
I love how children believe in the implausible, illogical and impossible and how despite the odds being against them, continue to reach for the man on the moon or search, flashlight in hand, for the purple monster under the bed.
Growing up takes some doing. It’s hard work trying to suspend if not abandon entirely, certain heart-truths or beliefs. Imagine for example trying to communicate to your dearest and nearest that you suspect you were abducted by aliens or that Bigfoot carried off your cooler on your last camping trip. Chances are they’d recommend you cut back on the boozing and look into therapy… unless of course you’re a writer. Like me. And your family is, well, used to all kinds of ‘fantasies’.
I’m going to share with you a story today that I have shared once or twice at family gatherings. It is a story that always draws a few ‘ahs’ and ‘aws’ while raising a few eyebrows and a fervent apology from my husband who thinks I’m bonkers.
My eldest son’s birth was a traumatic experience for me and not for any of the reasons you would suspect. I was scared. Very very scared. Believing I was ill-prepared, inadequate and unworthy in equal measures. So instead of pushing when I was told to, by an increasingly irate obstetrician I focused all my energy on keeping my child inside me. I don’t recommend this course of action. I can assure you if you have not given birth yourself that the pain I endured (natural birth, no epidural) defies description.
Anyway my son made his appearance and was and is a perfect boy. I remember holding onto him feeling ill-equipped and unprepared. M was about two months old when it became clear to my husband, my doctor and immediate family that I was suffering from post-partum depression. When I wasn’t sleeping (which wasn’t often of course) I was crying. And I mean crying. Long, ugly, messy bouts of deep sorrow. I turned to prayer and sometimes with my baby in my arms I would sit on the rocking chair in his nursery and lament. Yes, lament. I wish I could say I soothed my firstborn with lullabies but the truth is M would doze off to the sound of my pain.
Then one day all hope drained out of my body, I fell silent. I remember that day clearly. It was late afternoon and orange light fell in a ray over my son’s cot and a bird sang his last song for that day somewhere in the distance. The nursery door was wide open and I could see the corridor from where I sat. Something stirred. A breeze from an open window? The colliding of molecules? I watched transfixed as a pair of beautiful, impossibly white wings materialized by the door. They were long feathered wings, like those of giant dove’s, attached to an invisible back and trailing behind them a slow moving mist.
I know how this sounds. M says I’m weird and sharing this is a bad idea. But you should know I wasn’t on medication even though I should have been. I will end by saying this. I believe in angels. Do you?
What belief do you hold onto because you know it to be true however illogical and improbable it may seem to others?