What I Was Made For

I was made for cooking all kinds of delicious things for my family. Food is my love language.

I was made for snuggling babies. My babies, your babies, all the babies.

For answering questions from my daughter. Any and every. Always.

For morning and evening walks with the love of my life while I ramble on about our children, the weather, the beauty around us, politics, religion, family, friends, Buzz Lightyear, and love.

I was made for love, to show love. To show kindness when and where others cannot. With a broad range of compassion, both from my personal life lessons and from the understanding that we all carry our own baggage.

I was made for mothering. I was made to kiss boo-boos, to calm fears. For laughing at fart jokes. For Nerf wars. For planning ridiculous birthday parties. For sleepovers. For kisses and hugs. For the hard stuff we don’t imagine when we consider mothering. For all of it.

I was made for raising a generation who loves better than those before them. Literally. I was literally made for this.

I was made for moving my body. For running short distances and long. For enduring marathons. For yoga. For walking dogs. For chasing boys. For dancing. For stretching.

I was made for poetry. For prose. For reading all the things and writing even more. For using words, spoken and written, to reach others, to touch others, to help others understand.

I was made for friendship. Oh, I’m not always good at friendship, but I was made for it. For laughing. For wine nights. For holding your hand when you don’t know the answer. For helping you move really heavy furniture on Sunday nights. For falling out of hot tubs. For listening when your spouse is a jagoff. For lamenting when your kids are tweens. For sending your kids off on their own. For celebrating your success. For crying with you in your grief. For you.

I was made for sharing this story.

This story that is ever-evolving. For presenting a birth mother as so many shades of gray instead of all happy rainbows or all pitch black night. For showing motherhood through a lens of both gratefulness and exhaustion; of reality. For standing up and saying, I’m here. I nearly wasn’t, for so many reasons. My kidney. Complicated pregnancies. Two separate suicide attempts, the most recent of which isn’t yet a full three years ago.

But I’m here for a reason. Yes, all of the reasons above, and so many more, and to say this: Even when it feels impossible, when it feels pointless, I’m still here for something.

I am here for you.

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. This year on of my beloved non-profits chose the theme: Stay: Find Out What You Were Made For. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK to connect with the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine. You are not alone. You matter.

I Wish for All the World I Could Say, Hey Elizabeth, You Know, I’m Doing All Right These Days*

She’s been gone one whole year. I wrote this poem on the plane home from California on Monday. Last year, I flew home from California a few days after this date, with the knowledge her light was gone.

I still can’t believe it.

Un-Cloud Spirit

I don’t necessarily believe
you float above the clouds,
don’t think you watch me
from between the sun’s
rays, between falling
raindrops on my sons’ heads.

But looking down from this
particular vantage point, I
can’t help but feel your
arms wrapped ’round my
slumped, tired shoulders;
hear your voice in my ear.

Do you know when I struggle
most? When the thoughts
come fast and quick? Do you
recognize the pulse, the fear,
the downward spiral into
full-on self-hate?

You don’t need to answer
with words; I know how close
I dance with the demons—the
same who snatched you from
our hands, but not our hearts,
all too soon.

But you do answer me. I see you
in the way the light falls upon
my boys at sunset. I hear you
in song, in laughter, in a passionate
voice, and in the soft, gentle way
you said, “I understand.”

You act as a guide, flawed and
imperfect, like me. You see me
step to the edge, consider your
final fate, and step back, time
and time again; sometimes
I feel you push me away, back.

I don’t know why you’ve chosen
me, why you visit in dreams, at
lunch, in the sky on a flight home
almost one year after I cry-slept
through the sky, hurtling toward
a world in which you no longer existed.

When I close my eyes, memories flash
so quickly. Most crushing are the ones
I missed, wasn’t there for, that
pass through my mind as if I were.
I see you standing there; I cannot
reach you in time. Never. Still,

An onion on a coffee mug. Your laugh.
The two of us walking home through
the Square the night I knew I wouldn’t
and couldn’t marry my high school
sweetheart; cigarettes in the snow,
a conversation which lives with me now.

We talk even now, though I know
mostly no one would believe me or
even know you’re here, still, with us.
As you’ve walked with me this past
year, I’ve worked hard to be strong
enough for us both.

I do not know if I have succeeded
on behalf of you, but I know one thing:
I am here. I have new scars, some
too fresh, still itchy. But I am here.
You are in every piece I write now,
and I choose each breath.

For you. For me. For those who didn’t
know you, but should have; should have
read your words, held your hand.
For all of us who have wanted to give up,
nearly followed you into the dark, but
live on with and without you. Forever.

-JLH 7.31.17

Un-cloud Spirit

Further reading:

Title from Counting Crows’ song “I Wish I Was a Girl” from their This Desert Life album. Again. She lives on in these songs.