Being a parent changes you. Before I became pregnant I had all types of crazy things I wanted to accomplish. Not just the goals of someday winning a Pulitzer, or having my books being on the New York Times best sellers’ list, I also had the crazy goals youth and invincibility brings to you: like skydiving, competing in a triathlon, or streaking. However, once I became a mother, all those things went out the window because I had someone else to live for. My daughter’s needs come first in everything, and I wouldn’t want to not be able to meet them because I died from plummeting, or drowning, or I was arrested for indecent exposure.
Anything that would separate me from my daughter was put on the NO list. Then, I began to have these random realizations that my daughter has been with me my ENTIRE life. Even though she wasn’t fully herself, because her father hadn’t supplied that finished…ingredient…to create the being that she is now yet, but she was an egg in my ovaries, and if that ingredient was added one month earlier, or one month later, I wouldn't have the baby that I love holding, hugging and kissing right now. These realizations made me even more attached to my daughter, and constantly vowing to never let anything happen to her.
When my daughter was four months hold I got a call from my youngest sister. My cousin Apryl and her 13 year old daughter Amari were in a car accident. The driver who had been intoxicated with alcohol and narcotics was driving in the wrong lane and hit them head on. As Kayla’s voice cracked, she told me that Amari died.
Right after hearing the news, my own daughter woke up and started making noise to get my attention so I could make her bottle. After feeding her, I stood her up on my knees. Oblivious to what happened, she smiled at me and began to rub my face. At that moment, I burst into tears and couldn’t stop. So many questions arose and mixed feelings of anger, hurt, sadness, and helplessness ran through me. I started hugging and kissing her, letting her know that I love her, and repeated “I will never let anything hurt you” to her.
After Apryl got out of the hospital, people came to my mother’s house to be with Apryl. I expected her to be inconsolable, and I felt my heart racing in anticipation of seeing her. Oh my God, this is so horrible, what should I say? How can I tell her it’s okay when I would be so devastated if my daughter died?
I walked in, saw Apryl and a huge smile spread across her face. Giving me a hug, she asked me how I was doing while simultaneously reaching for my baby, giving her a kiss and holding her. I quickly answered her questions and said I would be right back. In the solitude of my parents’ office I began to cry…so hard. When I felt like I had it all together, I went back out there, and began to talk to people, but each time I saw Apryl, I would politely excuse myself to a secluded part in the house and weep like a baby. There was no question the Apryl missed her daughter, but she was so strong and poised that I wept because I KNEW that I would NEVER be that strong.
After four solid crying sessions I asked my mother to take me home, so I could continue the pity party in the comforts of my own home. After settling in, I held my baby facing me and repeated to her over and over how I would protect her, but as I continued I realized that I was trying to convince myself. The truth of the matter is, no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to protect her from everything like I lied to her. Feeling helpless, I did the only thing I could do…I cried some more, but Apryl’s smiling face continued to invade my psyche. Apryl had tapped into a strength that is reserved for parents who face these types of tragedies, and the realization that one day I might have to dip in that strength pool scared me.
I realized that it wasn’t just the death of my cousin, or the feeling of helplessness that has then and now brought me to tears. It is also the awe I have for Apryl, and her incredible strength. I can’t comprehend the feelings of losing that little part of you that has always been there, just waiting in our ovaries to become the child that you will hug, watch grow and make plans for. However, Apryl has amazed not just myself, but any and all who know her story with her ability to overcome and persevere. My only hope is that in times of tumultuous thunderstorms, I can still radiate with the power of sunshine that Apryl has, and inspire someone the same way she has inspired me.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!