The glare of the theatre lights warmed my skin yet my body shook.
The cesarean section was about to start. Everyone was poised, ready to carry out their designated duties yet I felt inadequate and out of my depth. I’d been in this environment before but this was different. Suddenly I wasn’t a face amongst the milieu of professionals but rather a patient, a mother waiting to meet her child. Little did I know this role reversal would become my life’s routine ; no longer a qualified nurse but instead a nervous and unqualified mum.
Ten weeks later, I sat across from another doctor and wished I was the nurse, rather than the parent. I had been in this room before. The room where the truth changes a life forever. The room where quietly crafted words melts hearts and dreams. This time the news irrevocably changed my family. My son had severe and extensive brain damage.
As my son grew, the complexities of his disabilities blossomed like a flower of truth.
With each new diagnosis, life-threatening seizure, and ambulance ride, I was thrust down an unexpected and unplanned road. So much of the medical landscape was familiar. As much as I understood the truth of the equipment and readings, my emotions were ill prepared to look on as my child was hooked up to a ventilator, fighting for his life.
There were times I lay in the hospital bed next to my son wishing I didn’t know the truth, feeling the truth about special needs trapped me, rather than set me free. I was fearful of what a new day might bring. Often, as a nurse, the ‘truth’ about our situation arrived before I was ready and I longed for blissful ignorance.
In writing, The Skies I’m Under, I walked around the darkest rooms of my past, lighting them with the torch of my memory.
Telling my story caused me to stop and wait in the darkness.
Initially the truth gripped and swamped me. Fighting it caused the tentacles of fear to tighten their grasp. But eventually I stopped grappling with the truth and my eyes adjusted to the darkness around me. Finally I began to see things more clearly. It wasn’t as dark as I thought. It was a painful process but eventually I became accustomed to the shadows and shapes of my past. Using the silhouettes of my past I formed an outline for my present and the person I had become.
The darkness made me stop and rest. I needed to allow the tide of emotions to sweep and swirl until I found the strength to rise once more. Then there were moments of witnessing the beauty in the hues of grey and shimmers of silver. The pain did not fade but the sting lessened. It wasn’t suddenly easier, sometimes the light brought with it painful clarity. But freedom came from living and accepting the reality of my truth not the mirage of my memories and emotions.
I searched for the truth of my future.
I wanted to know once and for all what life would be like. What complications we would face? But I found truth is not static with clear black and white edges. It is not final or finite. Truth moves and breathes and changes with time. Truth isn’t a rigid framework to pin the realities of life. It is an understanding of my world which morphs and moves as I age and grow, taking me along for the ride. Even the most rigid absolutes appear different with the changing light and differing emotions. A truth that once caused me pain has become life giving and hopeful.
Do you know the truth?
Have you thought about sharing the Truth of your life and your story?
If you do, it might just change you.
Hi, thanks for dropping by. My name is Rachel a nurse, writer, speaker, trainer and mum living in Essex with my husband and three sons; one of whom has severe disabilities and life-limiting epilepsy.
As well as doing laundry and endlessly trying to tidy away toys, I blog here and won the 2018 BAPs award for ‘Blogger ‘Making a Difference’ whilst being a finalist in the ‘Practical advice for families’ category. In 2015, I published my memoir ‘The Skies I’m Under’. I think an enjoyable evening should include a good book and glass of gin. Occasionally, I force myself to go for a run in an attempt to counteract a love of salt and vinegar crisps dipped in hummus.