The topic of children is not new. The longing for children in my life -- or even a child -- is not new. It is an old, old subject that has been written about at length and there is nothing new to add to it. But today I will once again add to it because I must. Because it won't go away. It hasn't gone away. And perhaps this ache, this "being surprised by an unexpected sorrow," will not go away for a while. I am not that old. I am still young enough, after all, to long for motherhood. Or it seems that way, anyway. Perhaps I am wrong. But there is no wrong or right anymore. Perhaps there never was. There is just a need within that is buried so deep that even I am unaware of its existence until I am once again -- yes -- surprised by an unexpected sorrow. What does it mean? I don't know. Perhaps I'm babbling.
Our lives are shared once again with animals. And what joy they bring. For some time now, we've shared our lives with a pair of litter mates, a male and a female. They belong to the large breed category so they are huggable and loveable and can be heard wondering about the house. I like that. I like those sounds. It is soothing to hear other noises in the house. They aren't footsteps -- apart from my husband's and mine -- they are the sounds of huge paws running about, coming and going. It isn't so lonesome anymore. And as much as we love and care for them, worry about them, enjoy their companionship, they are not our children. We are crazy about them. But they are not our children. It feels wonderful to be able to hug and kiss their heads or even hug them close to us. But they are not our children. And I was surprised by an ache the other day when I was holding our female dog close to me. There was an ache because I realised that I wished I was holding my daughter close to me. A daughter, or even a son. Another little person. A child of my own.
I wanted to hold you in my arms. And that ache reminded me once again that I was not a mother, that I had no child of my own, that I had never and would never, be withchild or have a brood of children to care for. And for some reason, that thought, realisation, reality, what have you, made me feel lonely.
Life is different now. It had been different for a while, I suppose, but it took the hysterectomy to finally tie everything all together, to finally put everything in its place. It is still hard at times, why, I don't know.
If this a cross that I am to bear, Father, help me to understand it better. Please.
Yes, yes, we all know that life is unfair. Yes, yes, there are scores of women out there -- even unmarried women -- who have children of their own. Why does it happen for them and not others? For me, it was not only about conceiving, it was also about the act of love, the intimacy, the intimate union between a husband and wife. But all these questions don't matter anymore, do they, for not only am I too old to bear a child -- I don't feel that I am but what do I know -- for it wouldn't be safe, it wouldn't be wise, but the surgery removed a part of me that meant I could no longer carry a child.
During the church service on Good Friday, everything was fine. Then came the time for the Cross to be brought in, the priest leading the procession. The congregation stood. I turned to look at the cross and I just about had a meltdown. Why did it happen? Why then? You said for us to take up our cross and follow You. I am following You. Or I desire to follow You.
Whether it was wallowing in self-pity, I don't know, but when I first found out that I needed a hysterectomy, I asked You what had I done that was so wrong. All that happened in my life, all the experiences, life choices and decisions that I made, had led me thus far. And it seemed as if removing the uterus -- that damned uterus! -- was the last straw, a slap in the face. I've been referring to it as "that damned uterus" to myself for a while now and mentioned it only once to my husband as it actually angered him to hear me say those words. I want to follow You so I know it doesn't help that I refer to it so unkindly. I suppose it makes me sound ungrateful for I still have the gift of life. There were no complications; there was no cancer. I should be both thankful and grateful.
But I want to hold you in my arms.
And I know I never will. And I wonder if or when I will cease to be surprised by that unexpected sorrow.
To a Childless Woman
You think I cannot understand. Ah, but I do...
I have been wrung with anger and compassion for you.
I wonder if you?d loathe my pity, if you knew.
But you shall know. I?ve carried in my heart too long
This secret burden. Has not silence wrought your wrong?
Brought you to dumb and wintry middle-age, with grey
Unfruitful withering??Ah, the pitiless things I say...
What do you ask your God for, at the end of day,
Kneeling beside your bed with bowed and hopeless head?
What mercy can He give you??Dreams of the unborn
Children that haunt your soul like loving words unsaid?
Dreams, as a song half-heard through sleep in early morn?
I see you in the chapel, where you bend before
The enhaloed calm of everlasting Motherhood
That wounds your life; I see you humbled to adore
The painted miracle you?ve never understood.
Tender, and bitter-sweet, and shy, I?ve watched you holding
Another?s child. O childless woman, was it then
That, with an instant?s cry, your heart, made young again,
Was crucified for ever?those poor arms enfolding
The life, the consummation that had been denied you?
I too have longed for children. Ah, but you must not weep.
Something I have to whisper as I kneel beside you...
And you must pray for me before you fall asleep.
Siegfried Sassoon (1886 ? 1967)