When we said good bye to May-May in the corridor of her dorm, she had a belly ache, and a brush fire raged on the mountainside just above the school. She smirked and said, "So Mom, you're just gonna leave me here with a tummy ache in a disaster zone?"
My family finds great amusement in my hyper-vigilant fears.
She squeezed me tight and I watched her blonde ponytail bounce away...down the hall.
Jon and Summer and Jazi and I sat in the parking lot for half and hour and watched the dark plumes of smoke rise from the mountain. Jon searched his smart phone for news on the fire while I breathed in and breathed out.
I fiddled with the purple hospital band on my wrist that read New Student Orientation, a meager safety measure for the flood of people milling about the campus.
Eighteen years ago it had read Cottage Hospital-Hughes-Baby Girl. And my body had churned and cramped and opened and released.
And now as the smoke filled the sky, again my body churned and cramped. And again...I opened... and again...I released.
Even my body knew she was leaving.
Labor had surprised me by how it knew it's way, that the waves of contractions knew when to rise and when to fall, when to press in and when to relieve, as if my body was on auto-pilot and I was merely a passenger. And that even at the moment of transition, as my mind failed me, my body fought onward, and all that pressure, all that pain...had such holy purpose.
For months I have found myself doubled over in pain, as we've packed up her room...threw out her toys. My heart has ached and my mind has gone mad as I have grieved the child she once was... oh, that funny smile and the curls on her little round head...
And again, I am surprised by holy purpose...the birth of this miraculous young woman... healthy and smart and lovely and strong and funny...oh goodness...she is so funny... and I know this world is a better place because she is in it.
So, where I have been bracing myself for what I thought would feel like death, where the pain seemed violent and pointless, there is now wonder and awe and celebration...and sweet...sweet...new life.