My motherhood has cultivated in me an appreciation for the many layers of myself accumulated so far in my life. I am learning to recognize the ways that each season has shaped my becoming.
Becoming Jasper’s mummy has shaped me in ways that cannot be undone.
Becoming a mother after infertility, I haphazardly navigated pregnancy in a post-traumatic daze, giving myself little grace as I battled my emotional demons. I was acutely aware that babies die, while trying to separate that knowledge from the baby I was carrying. Reflecting on this season, I began to acknowledge the seemingly contradictory feelings that can exist in the same heart.
Becoming a mother to a medically fragile child, I learned all of the ways a heart can be broken - congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common birth defects in America, affecting nearly 1 in 110 babies, including my Jasper. I felt helpless and also something primal rallied in me. In this season, I learned to advocate for my son and to demand grace for myself, although I didn’t yet know how to freely give it to myself.
Becoming a mother to a child who was going to die, I feared that Jasper and I would both be lost forever.
The two years since he died have given me the perspective on his death as our reshaping.
I was reshaped with a different perspective of life and living, and death and loving. Although I still feel the despair of loss and desperation of longing, I can now navigate the lows with the unsettling familiarity of someone who knows that they will eventually resurface, in contrast to the panicked flailing when I was newly bereaved.
Jasper was reshaped in ways I can only imagine and yet cannot fully understand. I thought the knowing of Jasper was finite and static, like the number of pictures of him I have, but he has revealed himself in the most wonderful and unexpected ways. It is in the knowing and learning of him, following his lead - always following - that I see all the ways love continues after someone dies.
At the end of Jasper’s life, I held his hand, his head tilted towards me, and we shared something that was only ours. We were reshaped in those last moments, still as mother and son, and forever as mother and son.
(“Forever a momma” series is posted weekly by Candice DeLeeuw on Facebook and Instagram)