THE OTHER WOMAN IN THE ROOM
A reflection from February 2017.
I couldn't stop watching her.
Her sadness, fear, and loneliness gripped at my heart.
I felt a deep pull and desire to walk over to this stranger, sit next to her, and tell her that she was not alone.
I'd wrap her gently in my arms, and let her rest in my own warmth, care, and love.
Days later, the image of her desperately gripping the puffy jacket wrapped tightly around her body haunted me as I sat at home at our kitchen table. Watching the steam rise from the cup of tea in front of me, I realized that, while I was lost in this fantasy of taking care of this stranger, I had completely missed the other woman in the room.
I can see her so clearly from here.
Breathing, waiting, and meditating.
Sending love to her child on the operating table, to the children in the rooms above, below and around her, to the nurses, doctors, and families waiting around her.
I can feel her so clearly from here.
Tired, scared, wishing she wasn't alone, but working really hard to be strong, to ‘stay positive’, and to appear smart, composed and "fine".
We had just returned from another stay at the Children's Hospital with Luka. I had spent the past few days in the same clothing I had worn when we arrived at the Emergency Department. As I ‘came back to life” (after showering and putting on fresh clothes) in my kitchen, I started to realize what it took for me to navigate the last few days.
From advocating for an ultrasound machine when IV’s were placed (because I know his veins best) to tracking and reporting to the care team how much fluids he was receiving, monitoring his eye movements, breathing, color, temperature, coordinating feeds, and syncing his med regimen to the unpredictable schedule that comes during a hospital stay.
I read books, sang songs, soothed and did my best to explain compassionately to my five year old son why and what we were poking, sticking and testing. I stayed busy anticipating his needs while simultaneously communicating with doctors, residents, nurses and staff, over and over again.
Even with all of that focus, I still managed to believe that I was failing and not doing enough. Guilt even managed to creep in to torture me with visions of my other son at home without his mommy to take care of him.
Sitting there in my kitchen, I began to see how this state of 'survival' had begun to take control and hijack my whole system.
Fear had flooded into my veins and was spreading to my bones. Surrendering to the fatigue, I no longer had the strength to fight and stifle it.
The sobbing returned, as I softened and settled back into my body.
For the first time, I turned to face the other woman in the room.
The other woman in the room… was me.
I turned to face the part in me that had felt so scared, vulnerable, tired, and exposed.
Instead of ignoring her, bullying her, criticizing her, or forcing her to 'buck up and get over it', I breathed, and made space for her.
Dropping deeper into myself, I paused and delicately sat with myself, offering a sweet moment of care and presence to this tender part of me who had felt so scared, alone and worried. Cradling this part of me in warmth, light, and love, I gently held her and sat with her.
Wiping her tears until, at last, a shudder of relief and calm came over me.
For the first time in days, I started to feel whole again
And so continued my journey of becoming a Nurtured Woman.