Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Control"

Back in May, I had the privilege of participating in a national series of live staged readings of essays about motherhood called Listen to Your Mother. There are productions in cities across the country, each one inviting local folks to come and audition a personal story about motherhood. I submitted an essay back in February, auditioned a few weeks after that, and was both stunned and excited when I was chosen for the cast.

My participation in Listen To Your Mother turned on my writing light for good. You can read more about that epiphany in a letter I wrote to my own mother back in May as the show was in production.

One of the most profound parts of the experience was how different it was to share my writing, to share this experience, to share my grief, to share Hudson’s story out loud, live, in front of three hundred people. It was a whole different level of vulnerability than writing here, where I can hide behind the screen.

But it was equally transformative and amazing as my experience writing this blog has been, and I want to share it with you, too.

Below is a video of my reading. I stumbled over two words. I broke up in one place (a completely different place from any where I’d ever broken up before during rehearsals—this kind of interaction is so personal, so dependent upon the feelings and whims of a particular moment in time, upon one’s relationship with the audience). I looked down too much. I felt self-conscious in the dress I was wearing. I hate the sound of my own voice.

But for the first time, I think, as I spoke to all of those people in the audience, as I tried to help them begin to forgive themselves for things that happen to their children over which they have no control, I actually began to believe the words I was saying. For the first time, I think, I actually began to forgive myself.

And my vulnerability turned into strength.


17 comments:

  1. This whole experience seems truly transformative. I'm amazed by your clear voice, your resolve, your beautiful words. Vulnerability and strength do seem to be two sides of the same coin.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, Mandy. You deserve the forgiveness you spoke of, because what happened to Hudson could happen to any child, even one as beloved and well cared for as she. I am a mom to a young daughter, and I can relate to many of the things you did for Hudson, that I'm sure you do for Jackson and Ada. In some way I think all of the research we do and great lengths we go to to keep our kids healthy and safe boil down to trying to ward off the bad luck that can befall any of us. Accepting that we have so little, if any, control over these things is frightening, because of course we want more than anything to be able to protect our children, and we want to think that if we just try hard enough, they will be ok. By sharing your experience so widely and so honestly, you're helping a lot of people to be mindful of how precious and fragile life is. Peace and good health to you and your loved ones.

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  3. We are always our own worst critics. I just watched this for a second time and I didn't note the things you noted either time. I saw a poised, lovely mother of three sharing the story of a beautiful little girl taken away far too soon.

    WIshing you the best as you continue with your book project. You've got one fan over here who can't wait to get a copy. :-)

    Kris

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    1. Thank you again, Kris. And yes, we are definitely our own worst critics.

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  4. Kerry in SeattleJuly 29, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    Mandy I was blown away listening to you speak about your journey with Hudson. Your candor and raw emotion are palpable. Thank you for sharing. I think of Hudson often, when I see people blowing bubbles and when I watch my 20 month old daughter. Hudson has touched many lives and you are simply an amazing spirit. shooting love from my heart to yours.

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  5. Your presentation is very powerful and heartbreaking. I have posted it to my site (where your blog is already included) to make sure even more bereaved moms and dads see it.

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    1. Thank you so much. I am so sorry that you understand this grief so well.

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  6. This is amazingly powerful. Thank you for sharing with us.

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    1. Thank you, Tracy, and thank you for reading and listening.

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  7. You are something else, Mandy... Wow.

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  8. I hope you are starting the process it forgiving yourself. I know that it doesn't matter how many people tell you that it wasn't your fault, you feel that as a mother you should have had a sixth sense.

    My daughter also developed meningitis as a baby. We were incredibly fortunate, she somehow came through it unscathed. But I don't know how she did. I didn't think she was ill. When she wouldn't feed over night as a 7 week old baby (1 week corrected), I put it down to her gaining weight & being able to last longer. I also thought her bloated stomache was gas. I had no idea that her bowel was shutting down & that her heart rate was twice what it should have been. I didn't think she needed to go to hospital. But I listened to my mother & took her.

    Fate was on our side. It was Easter Sunday so we had to take her to hospital. Had it not have been a bank holiday I would have waited for an appointment & not pushed for one as you did.

    You did everything you could have done for Hudson. Hindsight is an awful thing. You cannot change what happened. If you had of taken her earlier you probably would have been sent away. I said the same thing, watching my child on a ventilator , not knowing the outcome.... "If only I'd done more" & I was told I would have been sent away.

    I wish you peace Mandy. I know it's going to be a long road to forgiveness but I really hope you are on it now. I saw your most recent posts & I think these are natural painful milestones, but I hope that you aren't consumed by that awful & unrelenting question of "if only?"
    I think of you often & know that it is an absolute tragedy that Hudson isn't with you today. You did all that you could have done , & I know that it was more than what most of us would have done, which just makes it even more unfair.

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    1. Thank you so much, Katherine. I am so glad that your daughter is OK. I've mostly put this monster to rest, but it does still rear its head occasionally, usually when one of my younger kids is sick and I have to figure out how to proceed. We've taken our son to the ER a few times as a result, only, of course, to be sent home. Why that wasn't the outcome with Hudson, I'll never understand. Thank you so much for listening and for the kind words.

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  9. I believe that I understand how you feel Mandy. I know the feeling of an unrelenting thought process. It can in no way be compared to how you feel after loosing Hudson, but Immy was born profoundly deaf & I often find myself caught in a cycle of trying to understand why?! It's not even that I'm bothered about the fact she's deaf, I'm just hoping that the cause isn't going to take anything else from her in the future.
    It can be a very unhealthy process, & I'm actually feeling like I have quietened the beast for now, but I know it can be reawakened all to easily. However, each time it surfaces it seems to be able to be put to bed that little bit more easily now.
    I hope that the same will be for your if only & what if questions.

    I think it's very difficult not to jump to hasty conclusions with our children after one child has has such an awful disease. It re-shapes the way you think. I used to think bad things only seemed to happen to other people. Now, in my mind, anything bad is very possible! I took Immy to hospital shortly after she had recovered from meningitis. She had a slight cough & I convinced myself she had whooping cough. It sounds silly now, but I think if you have any concerns the doctors will always sympathise & don't mind checking them over. But I think it is incredibly unlikely that anything horrendous will happen in the future.

    I have to say that I really admire you. I think you are such a brave and courageous woman. Hudson, Jackson & Ada are all very lucky to have you as there mother & I wish you many happy years to come.

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