By the time she paused to have a drink of water, my back was ramrod straight, and every fibre of my being was waiting for the next words out of her mouth, as my mind wondered just how much suffering one person could bear.
It was a story of pain, of darkness unimaginable, and triumph at the very end of the whole business. Several ways she might have given up, even before she got there, but thank God she did not. It was a story told by a tall graceful lady, whom I will call Mercy, at a small workshop/ 52nd birthday celebration recently.
Let me start from the very beginning. As a six year old child, Mercy was sexually molested by her maternal uncle who lived with them, and when she told, no one believed her, but that uncle was sent away from the house, and another came in his place, who continued where the last uncle stopped.
She only got some respite when she went to boarding house, when she turned 12. It was like, that was when she started to live. Conversations about what each child’s future ambitions were, were quite popular then, and every other day she would swing between being a full-time mom and every other profession that came to her young mind. Very soon, her friends knew her life’s ambition was to be a mom, and she got nicknamed “mommy.”
Even though she was the smallest of her class mates, she was mom and mothered them all. Going home, during breaks and holidays, was not such a fantastic idea with her, so she took to spending her holidays with her paternal grandparents, who lived alone and welcomed her company.
From secondary school, she went on the University, and lived on campus, even though she schooled in the same state as her parents. She hardly ever came home, except to get her stipend and fees. She never slept over. Her parents were suspicious, her mom, especially, wondered, and actually asked her if she was avoiding her own home, due to the incident with her uncle, from long ago. Mind you, she used the word “incident.”
It was not a conversation she wanted to have, so she did not bother with an answer. Fast forward to graduation from the University, and then National Youth Service, which she firmly refused her father’s interference with her posting, she was posted up north and she gladly went, and that was where she met her beau.
As she described her man, you could see tears in the outer corners of her eyes, tears she did not want to shed for the man who poured his soul into her and healed her battered one. The one man who made her stop running from her troubles. He was her anchor and sunshine.
What drew them to each other? It was Mercy’s mothering instincts at their best. At the camp, she had been elected platoon leader, a position she did not take lightly and, as per her usual self, she made sure everyone was fine and doing what they were supposed to be doing, and those who needed support, got it. She was supportive, she was protective, and she was a mother hen over her platoon members.
Her beau was one of them. They became friends, he became her shadow leader, and between them, they ruled things, during the three-week camp. They got their places of primary assignment, and they fell in love. It was raw emotion on both parts, but it was a feeling that could not be consummated. Mercy had been marked by what happened in her childhood. But that did not matter, as they made themselves more vulnerable to each other.
Mercy opened up to him, the areas of her life which had been bottled up for years; it was a life-changing day for both of them. He had also been sexually molested by his uncle. At that declaration, they both started to cry at their stolen childhood, and that day, they promised to always be there for each other, no matter what. It was an easy enough promise to make; one couldn’t live without the other anyways. Rather than drive them apart, two emotionally battered people, their brokenness healed both.
They got married, and you can bet “Mom” wanted to become a real mom soon, but it was not happening. She had inkling she might have issues in that department. She was an only child, whose mom had only just given up hope of ever having another child.
After two years of trying, and practically turning her home to a nursery for her neighbour’s children, Mercy urged her husband to let them try IVF. Her husband was like, “Dearie, we haven’t even gone to a doctor first, and they have not told us something is wrong with us, and that we need to do IVF, so why?
For whatever reason even she could not state, she insisted and they went on to see a doctor, insisted on IVF, where they got lots of good quality embryos, nine of which were frozen. Unfortunately that cycle failed. Mercy was devastated, but was soon ready to try again.
It was during their second trial that her husband died in a fatal motor accident. Her words describes it best here; “I died that day. I felt betrayed. My mind flew in all directions; I thought, ‘Does this mean I have to go back to my father’s house?’ ‘How am I going to get a baby?’ ‘My rock has left me, how am I going to survive?’ I wanted to die, and for months afterwards, I did not want to live. I just wanted to be wherever my Sugar was”
She was brought back to mother earth, two months later, when she woke up in a pool of her own blood. She had miscarried a pregnancy she did not know she was carrying. That snapped her out of mourning, and she started to make plans for another IVF cycle with her remaining frozen embies.
It was a successful cycle; it fulfilled her dream of becoming a mom for real. She has a splitting image of her late husband as a constant reminder from that cycle, so she did not constantly have to dream about the years she spent with that beautiful soul, who loved her warts and all, and whom she loved in return.
Through all of these trials, she kept being the bigger person, keeping her head up, even when it looked like everything else wanted to keep it bowed.
Yes, there were a few times, she missed the mark, but she kept seeing the rainbow-fringed clouds and forged ahead. Especially now, that she has to do this parenting business all alone, she needs to see those rainbow-fringed clouds more often.
And she sees it more, when she shares her story, and it uplifts someone. I’m sharing her story in the hope it will lift someone out there.
It will not be easy to do, but do not let whatever ails you, beat you.
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