Success rests with having the courage and endurance and above all the will to become the person you are, however peculiar that may be. Then you will be able to say, “I have found my hero and he is me." George SheehanTwenty-three years ago today my eldest daughter, Alexis, burst into the universe, her tiny fists clenched, her rosebud mouth open to let out a piercing cry.
And I felt my heart melt.
I heard her cry even before she was out of the womb. It was a c-section. I was awake and under an epidural. Before the doctor had even cut into the protective casing of my womb, her cry could be heard.
I have never felt such an overpowering feeling of love as I did in that moment of hearing her first cry.
In the course of our twenty-three years together, there have been other cries. Other moments where love washed over me and I felt helpless under its overwhelming power to humble me. But none of those moments have been so completely devastating as that first cry. In that cry the truth of our life together was revealed. In that cry I knew, no matter how much I wanted to, there would be times I could not stop her tears, could not ease her fears, could not make it all 'okay'.
It was a fearsome and humbling moment. I lay on the gurney in the sterile enclosure of the oeprating room, nurses and doctors busily going about their business, as I listened to the cry of my child as she was lifted out and up into the world. I lay there and I felt helpless. I lifted my arms and reached for my child and her tears eased for just a moment and I felt love wash over me as my heart broke wide open.
A broken heart is an open heart and an open heart is a loving heart.
Since that first cry there have been many tears, many bursts of laughter, many smiles and gentle touches, many hurtful outbursts, many words and moments of admiration, joy and celebration. There have been moments when I had to watch her struggle to step beyond the point of where she believed she couldn't go. There have been moments when I have had to pull her back from going where she was not yet able to go. And there have been moments when I have held her after a fall and applauded her after a soaring leap into her dreams. There have been many moments filled with enough emotions to blanket the sky in every colour of the rainbow.
And always there is love.
There is a constant heartache in being a mother. A continuous tug at maternal apron strings that want to tie your child to your side as they unravel the strings that bind. There is the constant pull of your need to want to keep them safe from falling rubbing against their need to test gravity's hold upon their spirited will to step out into thin air and fly.
In falling, we learn to trust in gravity.
I didn't know twenty-three years ago that with that first cry I would fall so completely, utterly, totally in love with another human being. I didn't know that my heart would soar, and sometimes my stomach would drop and my arms ache for her as she struggled to unfold the beauty of her wings. I didn't know that loving another meant letting them leap from the nest so that they could learn to spread their wings and fly.
I celebrate the amazing grace I have experienced through loving someone else enough to know I cannot live their lives for them, I can only show them that by becoming the person I am, no matter how peculiar, I have found the hero in me. In my discovery, they have the freedom to find the hero in themselves.
And in the end, after the tears and cries and laughter and falls, to become a hero in our own lives sets us free.
I celebrate my daughter, Alexis, today. She is a beautiful spirit learning to fly above the binds that tie her to the ground. She is a hero in her own life.