Many months ago I had a conversation with my ex-husband in which he admitted to me that he doesn’t remember the birth of our youngest son.
He was there. He was sober. He held my hand and he cut the cord. But he doesn’t remember.
No one in my family was able to be there for Luke’s birth- not by choice, simply circumstance. I was disappointed by that but I understood and felt comforted in knowing that at least my husband would be there with me soaking it all in.
Most women have an image of what their child birth experience will be like. For me, child birth is the most monumental experience of a person’s life. It’s the literal birth of a tangible piece of a woman’s heart, soul, and body.
I imagined it would feel that way to my husband as well.
I imagined that in the moments of seeing me pregnant with his children; in the moments of seeing me in labor; in the moments of seeing me give birth to the perfect little boys we created together, that he would fall in love with me all over again. That the depth of his love would know no bounds and our bond would be strengthened forever. That no moments would ever top those moments for him. That he would feel about it the same way I did.
My expectations and reality didn’t align that day; but it took me over a year to realize just how far apart they were.
The day following my son’s birth, after my husband brought our 18 month old twins to the hospital to visit me and their new brother, he asked me if I would mind if he got our friends to watch the twins so that he could go hunting.
It was in that moment that my last shred of hope died. Something in me shifted after those words left his lips.
In that instant, sitting in a hospital bed nursing my newborn while my twins played and adored their brother, the gap between my dreams and my reality slammed closed. We were in two different worlds, and we always would be.
I faced the truth that my sons and I would forever be on one side, and he would forever be on the other.
The day my husband told me he doesn’t remember his youngest son’s birth, a part of my soul died.
C.S. Lewis once said, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
Every now and then you read something that makes everything else make sense. This quote did that for me.
We are souls.
It’s why emotional pain is so much worse than physical. Emotional pain seeps past our bodily flesh and into the flesh of our souls. When I feel the type of sadness that seems to sit in my bones, it’s because it is in my bones.
Our bodies are merely our casing. The vessel that helps us survive this brutal life. There are some things that the body is unable to protect our souls from, and it is those pains that sit in our hearts. It is those events that soak through our flesh and bone, altering us forever.
There are some moments in my life in which everything changed. We all have those moments. The ones where time becomes marked as “before that” and “after that.”
Those memories are the ones that live in my soul. The ones that bring such joy I feel I might explode, and the ones that bring such pain I feel I might not find my next breath.
Our souls bleed out in memories.
Our souls are our memories.
My children are extensions of my soul. Of me. I don’t mean that in the sense that they are little mini me’s. I mean it in the sense that they came from my body, birthed from my soul. They will always be a part of me and I a part of them.
So when the man who created those miracles with me tells me he doesn’t remember the birth of one of them; my soul cries. My whole physical body aches because the depth of that statement is too much to be contained.
I don’t think of it often, but it sits inside of me dormant.
Luke will be two in a few days and once again, the recognition of the distance between reality and expectation is sharp.
Every moment of my son’s lives is wrapped up in me. From their conception, they were a part of me. When I look at them, I see my soul.
I think part of what makes parenting so scary and so brutal at times is that exact thing. The fact that our children are pieces of us. Pieces of our soul. Our very being. And just as we couldn’t protect our own souls from the pain of this world, we can’t protect our children from it either.
We rely on our bodies to keep our souls safe, and sometimes it works.
But sometimes, it doesn’t.
Sometimes memories are so painful not just because of the thing itself, but because of what it did to our souls; and because of how we feel it so deep within us that it’s become woven into our very being.