The most difficult stage of labor is called transition. It is that moment when the life force totally has its way with the woman giving a new life to the world, when the emerging being moves from within the womb, down into the birth canal. The pain is at its most intense, and the mother is in the grip of a power than cannot be denied, or controlled. She must surrender herself to God, and to her helpers, and breathe this new life into the world.
We often find ourselves in transitions in life. The pain is near to unbearable, and nothing we do can stop the process. With no other options, we call out to God, and we lean on the helping hands around us. And somehow, we survive it, and the new self we are struggling to breathe life into, emerges.
I never believed that at my age I would be asked to endure such events, or face such radical life changes. But in this pain, and amidst these irretrievable losses, doors are opening.
I remember my grandmother, and the women her age. In that generation, I would be well on my way to becoming an old woman, settling in at home, and winding down my responsibilities. I look at my hands, and I see the physical signs of age. But I feel my spirit, and I know I am still…just me.
This last year I have lost much of what I loved best, much of what I drew on to define me. Some of those dearest to me in all the world are now gone. But I passed the test. I stood at the crossroads, and I chose to keep going forward, to redefine myself not by my losses, but by my choice to reclaim life. The Holy Mother has stood beside me through this transition whispering, that she too, lost.
I have understood, with God’s help, that the way to reclaim our life is to give our life away. I know I have much yet to give, much yet to receive. Last year, I had the great good fortune to spend six precious months in the amazing country of Romania. Little did I know then, that that time, and those dear people I met there, would prove to be God’s saving grace to get me through this dark time. Romania calls and I return, now at last to fulfill my dream of being a part of these amazing people’s lives. By August I should be back in my beloved Romania, sitting with my dear friend, and eating our dinner together…sharing the simple pleasures of mămăliga and goat cheese, and maybe if I am lucky, a little tuică.
I want to acknowledge my beloved son David, who walks the road less traveled, and who has been a brick in my foundation for his whole life. Dave you are a true heart, you have given me some of the purest, most honest, most powerful love any human being has ever received. You are a guiding light for me, now and for always. I could not have made it without you.
– First published April 4, 2008