I have a tree outside my window. Big Nectarine. I watch it from where I sit most of the day. I watch it as the seasons pass. It shades us in summer and shrivels up in winter. And at the end of every winter, I wait. I wait for those buds to burst through. They curl out and stretch to the sun. They sense the warm spring breezes are on their way. When they blossom, it is like fairy floss. Pink. Delicate. Soft. Heralding the sweet fruit to come.
Before he was conceived, I longed for him. Our second child. He was desperately wanted. I thought he would complete me, complete us.
And then he arrived, 16 months ago, bursting through on a cool spring morning at our home. Beautiful blossom. I inhaled all his freshness. He was divine.
Weeks later I looked outside my window. The tree was luscious green and bearing summery fruit. But inside the window we were descending into a bleak winter. It was dark. A haze of screams and cries that lingered for months and months. My much longed for baby had turned into something I didn’t recognise. Brute strength all twisted up in a mass of pain. My poor boy. My poor baby boy.
I couldn’t keep up. I started to shrivel like that tree. He didn’t sleep during the day. Just cries and whimpers. And hours of screaming. To this day I can’t cope with the sound of a screaming baby. Like nails down a chalkboard. I wince. I have to cover my ears. It brings it all back.
When he was 10 months old he finally napped for the first time in his life. A solid 40 minutes. I thought I was in heaven. I had a cup of tea. I actually started typing at the computer for the first time unhindered by a baby on my lap. And I started dreaming. I wondered if I was on the cusp of a normal life again. Perhaps soon I could move freely around the house? Perhaps I could even cook dinner and do housework like normal mothers?
But it wasn’t that simple. There was a debt. And my body paid it. It took the brunt of it all. All those months of carrying him. Months of holding him as he writhed in my lap. The steep exhaustion of the constant watch. My body was aching and creaking like a rotting ship. I was sinking.
A few months ago someone threw me a lifeline. Slowly my body has gotten stronger. Small tiny steps. And with that my head has started unfogging too. Out of the darkness, I’m starting to see sunlight.
And then one day last week I saw him. My boy. Clearly, like it was the first time. He was so happy. So bright. Out of that winter, a beaming child has emerged. He is chirpy. He is sharp. He is affectionate. He is funny. And he laughs. My goodness, he laughs! He is stretching up like those buds, towards the sun.
And I am inhaling the blossom all over again.
I’m sure he was beaming all along. I’m sure deep down I knew he was getting better and growing. I never stopped loving him. I never gave up. But the winter, it was just too dark to see.
I’m looking outside my window now. The big tree is shedding it’s leaves. The tree and I, we have different seasons. Some longer, some shorter. But I look to the tree to remind me of my own. To remind me that there are rhythms to every living thing.
The boy, the Blossom, is in full bloom. I’m nourishing myself and holding steady. Preparing for any weather. There may be a long winter ahead. But there will also be the promise of a spring.
Another chance to bloom again.