It’s Still Winter

When I embarked upon my walk down the path near my office this afternoon, all I was thinking about was how wonderful it felt to be outside in the fresh, warm
air. I was happy that I didn’t have any obligations to steal my lunch hour away from me: no errands, no appointments, nothing. The time was all mine.

A few minutes into my walk, it occurred to me that on my last trip down this path, I was pregnant. I had been in my new office for about a month, taking frequent walks on my breaks. It was still summer, but you could feel fall coming on the cold breeze that often blew across the nearby river. I was proud of myself for having lost a significant amount of weight prior to the transfer, and I planned to take advantage of the walking path for as long as the weather and my growing belly would allow. I don’t remember that last walk precisely – there was nothing extraordinary about it, and of course, I had no idea it would be my last one for a long time.

Over the next few moments, I felt an outpouring of emotions. First was anxiety. I wasn’t sure I could even continue on. A lump grew in my throat and tears threatened to fall. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and, at the same time, just yesterday that I had been there last. My mindfulness kicked in then, as I acknowledged my anxiety, let it sit for a while, then took a few deep breaths.

I continued walking. I thought about all the stories I had read by women who carried babies with anencephaly. Many of them talked of making memories with their babies while they could: Going places and seeing things and having unique experiences. I didn’t understand that at the time I read those stories, but I think I understand it now. I didn’t know it at the time, but those walks down this path with my baby inside me made for a very powerful memory. I may have actually smiled a bit at the memory of walking down this path with my baby.

I remembered capturing a photo of one of my first walks. I quickly scrolled through my phone to see if I could find it – to see if I could find the exact spot today – but I couldn’t. I took another photo today, anyway, as a point of comparison. Later, I found the older photo I was looking for.

IMG_8578-COLLAGE

The bottom photo was taken on August 24, 2016, just 3 weeks before we learned our baby would not live. The top was taken today.

You can’t see it in the top photo, but the trees are starting to bud. Not quite new life, but a coming back to life. I like how spring creeps in slowly at first, seeming to take forever for the first buds to appear and open, the first flowers to push their way up through the soil and leftover snow. But then, almost overnight, trees are covered in green and tulips are in bloom everywhere you look.

For now, though, the scene is still rather bleak. You have to look close to see any signs of life. Mostly you just see stark naked and broken branches, and mounds of dead leaves and sticks that spent the cold winter under many feet of snow. And that’s okay. The winter deserves it’s time. Spring will come, there’s no question about that. But for now, it’s still winter.

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