Spine

I remember the first time I saw my baby’s back. Tiny bone bumps stacked up under skin. That view had so much meaning. At once I had created bones that ended up in a body of a baby I have loved for life after life. My heart, oh my heart. My dear son.

I remember the first time I saw my next baby’s back. Tiny hairs barely stuck to the skin of the smallest shoulder blades I had ever seen. My hairs, my girl, my heart. My dear daughter.

I did good. I made them. I loved them with every breath, every beat.

Now, my heart? The same heart that I have only kept beating because of those babies? Now that heart? My only heart? That heart has finally broken. Thankfully, I think. Painfully, I testify. Bent and bruised for years, I have hung on. Hung in. Kept going. Kept it going. Keep going, Walker, keep going. They need you, Walker; they need you.

They moved out. They are not my babies. I am not their mother. Yes, my children broke my heart. Thankfully, I think. Painfully, I testify.

I have reached this point. A peak. Stacked up under the skin are my bones. Dusty, dented, but mine. My heart might be broken. So be it. But my spine carries me forward through this life. I have reached this point.

I did good. I made it. I stand with no fear of bad things happening. The worst has happened. And I am still standing. I am free.

Indwelling in Fire

Indwelling is a heuristic research method whereby the researcher reflects deeply on the essence of the experience revealed in the research data. Moustakas (1994) explains that indwelling “involves a willingness to gaze with unwavering attention and concentration into some facet of human experience in order to understand its constituent qualities and its wholeness” (p. 24).

As I have wrapped up the last interviews for the research, indwelling continues to inform what the essence of the experience of PPD for moms with older children. For many, myself included, the experience includes involuntary separation from our children. I am sitting on my bed writing this as my children walk to school from their dad’s house, on the other side of town. Mothers, we burn wherever our children go.

My soul is on fire
in another room,
in another house,
across town,
in a neighborhood where I never go.

My soul is on fire over there;
put in a place where it is safe to burn…
away from the children.

My soul goes there every weekend.
So Friday through Sunday it stays there,
out of my body. Invisible.

What would it take dear Lord to bring it back?
To house it in this hollow chest?
How would it feel inside my ribs? Would I dance? Paint?
Grow breasts where the scars sit? Would I finally feel like me?

Because I am withering here, dear Lord; I am dithering here, dear Lord.
Only motherhood keeps me moored here, dear Lord.
Decay
Disease
Decline
Divorce
Depression

Parts of me rot and float away,
every Friday through Sunday.

I wasn’t done with the memories of
toddlers snuggling
and babies loving.
I wasn’t done with the
scent of my children growing.

On weekends, the smallest flash of a memory of those babies
dissolves my bones down to where
I live now.
Here now.

Here is me, dismembered from
that which ignites me into being,
sparks me into feeling.
Cut off from twenty years
Every Friday through Sunday.

My soul is on fire
in another room,
in another house,
across town,
in a neighborhood
where I never go.

Moustakas, C. (1990). Heuristic research: Design, methodology, and applications. Sage Publications.