Finding Joy in a Time of Loss

Finding Joy in a Time of Loss

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Finding Joy in a Time of Loss

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.
~Author Unknown

I grew up in an instant. No, it was not as I walked across the stage as a high school graduate or even as I walked down the aisle with my new husband. I was twenty-eight and my mother had just died. The cancer had won and I had lost. I stood there in her hospital room with one hand on her arm and the other on my growing belly. I was three months pregnant with my mother’s first grandchild. At that moment, my tiny world changed forever. Despite having a wonderful husband, a large extended family and supportive friends, I felt alone. The one constant in my life was gone. Without her advice, I was unsure of my next move. Without her guidance, how would I ever be the mother she had been?

I have spent endless hours examining the relationship I shared with the incredible woman I called my mother. She was my best friend, my biggest fan and the only home I had ever known. I was her only child and she was a single mother. We were a team, and though we were not the traditional family, I would not have had it any other way. Even as an adult, I enjoyed her company above all others. We shopped, traveled and had deep conversations in which my mom would share intimate stories about her life. These talks always involved at least one bottle of wine!

My mother’s pregnancy was an accident. It was not until after a near miscarriage that she realized just how much she wanted the baby she was carrying. My mother started preparing for the arrival of a daughter. She never had an ultrasound. She somehow “just knew” that I would be a girl.

My pregnancy was a little different. After learning that my mother’s cancer had spread from her colon to her lungs, my husband and I decided to try for a child. I desperately wanted my mother to be a part of my child’s life. I saw us taking her to our favorite clothing shops and to the spa for the first time. I saw us swimming with her in the ocean and sharing all the incredible gifts that two generations of women could provide. Yes, in my mind, my child was always a girl. I saw a daughter who would allow me to continue the traditions I had shared with my mother.

For the weeks following my mom’s death, I remained focused on the baby I was carrying. I kept busy with baby preparations. I deliberated forever over which jogging stroller would be easiest to take on runs with our two dogs. I paced the aisles of Babies“R”Us for hours trying to pick out the right breast pump. I stayed busy and tried not to let my mind wander. I felt that if I allowed myself to fully comprehend the situation I was in, I would sink into a depression so deep I might not be able to return. I tried not to think about what I had lost and I attempted to ignore the void that was now a part of my daily life.

During this time, my thoughts once again turned to the sex of my unborn child. In my mind, a daughter would help replace what I had lost. I knew that I would love my child regardless of the sex, but I clung to my dream of having a daughter like it was my lifeboat in a sea of emotion that was now my life. My only comfort came from knowing that I would take on the mother role in the mother-daughter relationship. I would provide to a daughter the same guidance, unconditional love and friendship that I experienced with my own mother.

My ultrasound to determine the baby’s sex was exactly one month after my mother’s passing. The day brought mixed emotions. The appointment was scheduled months in advance and my mother had planned to be there for the occasion. Instead, my husband and I sat alone in the waiting room. It is an unsettling feeling to be excited, nervous and sad all at the same time. I tried not to think about her absence. I tried to focus on the magnitude of the day. I was about to see my baby. I would finally know if I should buy that pink or blue receiving blanket.

The appointment seemed to drag on endlessly. I searched the doctor’s face for a sign that would tell me what I was having. And then I heard her slip as she referred to the little peanut on the ultrasound image as a “she.” My heart stopped as I waited for her to confirm the prediction. She smiled and finally said we could expect a baby girl in about four months. I could no longer hold in my tears. I cried happy tears at the thought of becoming a mother to my little girl. I cried tears of sadness because I desperately wanted my own mother at that moment. My husband held me as I sat on the examining table. The doctor was confused by my breakdown and made me laugh through my tears when she said, “I’m sorry. Did you want a boy?”

I now have my little girl and my love for her is stronger than I ever imagined it could be. My mom used to say that I was the best thing she did in her life. While my life is not over, I am positive that delivering this perfect creature into our world will be my crowning achievement. I will provide to her the same unconditional love and support that helped see me through the most challenging of times. I look forward to introducing her to new places and experiences. And when she is old enough, I will share with her the intimate details of her grandmother’s life so she can know the legacy that she carries within her.

~Megan Dupree

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