On Mother’s Day, And Remembering My Daughter (Who’d Be 12 Years Old Today) » VSB

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On Mother’s Day, And Remembering My Daughter (Who’d Be 12 Years Old Today)



Sometimes it’s easy to forget it ever happened, to go about life and never have it surface in the forefront of my mind. Even when I am reminded by my naked reflection, the now barely-there line of a scar etched below my pelvis, a slight kiss from a scalpel in yesteryears past. The small Bs that were big Cs, before.

In the early years post, I’d think about it all the time. I could still somehow feel it, the mending of many layers of muscle and tissue trying to get back to its uninterrupted form. It’d never be the same though. Even at the young age of 22, my body would always remember, never go back to before. She’d left her imprint.

12 years later, what I have left are memories of an impossibly tiny hand grabbing onto my pinky, of wide eyes looking up to me, 20 photos of a beautiful baby that looks nothing like me. I have a pile of obituaries, some frayed and faded, containing a poem titled I’ll never written by a heartbroken me one day before they went to print, and this slit, small and forgettable, but always there.

I’m used to being around people who don’t know. Mostly because it’s not something I share very often. Occasionally I will get the oh what’s that on your wrist?  when I turn my left hand over, an angel winged flanked Briyanna  discreetly inked there. I’ve been among the conversations, comments ping-ponging around me about statistics, what works for preemies and what doesn’t, and oh I feel so bad for soandso and they tried so long just for this to happen and the good stories too, the surviving and thriving stories. I learned a long time ago to stay silent, to not chime in and mention that I too, know how they feel. I too have been in the NICU for 23 hours a day, leaving only for midday teeth brushing and night showers and snacks. I have learned to bow out gracefully, look away, make an empathetic comment, change the subject. I used to mention her, trying to make my voice as casual as possible, throw in a comment about the pain of a C-section, the way God/the Universe/Life’s plan is always better than our own in the grand scheme. It’s never worth the awkward and immediate silence, the shocked faces of pity, the uncomfortable I’m so sorries. 

They say once you have a child, you’re always a mother. I don’t feel like one most days. It’s hard to believe I’d have a 12 year old daughter right now, someone with their own personality and opinions and probably a crush on some boy, or girl. I do imagine I’d be more accomplished, more responsible with my time throughout my 20s; I’d have written several books, have submitted that script. Time is different when you have another life depending on how you use yours. I’m really good at disappointing myself, at not showing up for myself when it comes to those things; goals, deadlines. I hate doing it to others.

I imagine having a pre-teen right now would make me more like my parent friends who seem to do it all, so focused and determined to make their mark on the world, leave something for the very real legacies they are raising, whom they tuck in each night.

The envelope had a pet name scribbled in his messy handwriting on it, a name I cannot recall today, but something he’d started calling me the first week we met, that had stuck. I opened it as he sat down next to me. I was in the middle of writing a blog post, had just spoken to my mother, told her I’d be over in a bit. I opened the card thinking it was another random “just because” card. He was the kind of guy who took pride in making me happy, the kind that came over with small gifts pretty often, a card paired with my favorite candy just to let me know he’d been thinking of me that day. I expected some dirty joke on the inside, maybe a you made me smile today sappy message, some cartoon animal holding an I love you balloon.

Happy mother’s day. The card said in pretty scripted font. even though she is not here in body, I know she is here in your heart  was written in the same messy writing as the name on the envelope.

I stared at it for 10 seconds before I could even speak, my brain processing the fact that not only had he thought of me on mother’s day, but that’d he’d actually taken the time and gotten a card to remember a child who’d passed four years prior, much before he met me.

The tears that filled my eyes and choked my throat when I said thank you and wrapped him in a hug, surprised me as much as they did him. I don’t think I’d ever been moved to tears by anyone before then, and it hasn’t happened since. It was a full five minutes before the overwhelm wore off, before I could speak again.

I don’t actively think about it most days. But every year on mother’s day, and on those rare occasions when I notice the small slit in my naked reflection, I remember the one time someone remembered I was once briefly a mother, too.


Shanaé Brown

Shanae' Brown is a marketing professional, former avid blogger and lover of words. When she is not working on her YA novel (now actually close to completion after 5 years of an on and off relationship), she is probably somewhere listening to 90s music, laughing at things on twitter, or playing with her hyperactive yorkie, Melo, also known as Lil Homie.

  • Kat

    Be well love…and well loved.

  • miss t-lee

    Reading this again…and it’s still just as beautiful.

  • Not gonna sit here and say “I know what you’re going through.”…because I can’t imagine. I do hope you find peace as time goes by.
    Peace and Blessings Shanae.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. This is so beautiful and heartbreaking. There are no words I can think of to express my empathy for such a profound loss. Grace and peace to you on Mother’s Day and always.

  • pls

    so touching and beautifully written.

  • Read this on your blog on Sunday morning. Well done piece, Muze.

  • MissRosé

    I don’t know this kind of loss, I imagine it never leaves you but I hope you have more happy than sad days. *HUGS*.

  • “Time is different when you have another life depending on how you use yours.”

    This really hit me in the chesticles. For your heart and womb having been made bigger, your life was changed, and even though you don’t feel like it sometimes, your mother badge is firmly planted on your chest, right above the heart that’s her most sacred resting place. You loved her and still do, and that’s all that matters.


    • MsCee

      That’s probably the most beautiful and accurate thing I’ve ever read.

      • Liiiiiike I actually had to pause, because I felt that in my spirit. Several of my distractions today (listening to my podcast, catching up on some of my others, reading VSB) have all had these powerful messages concerning choices, time, and making the best of both. The universe has a message for me today!

        • MsCee

          It definitely has the same message for me. I can admit that my daughter changed the complete trajectory of my entire life. I love her for it though, it’s seriously no telling where I would be without her.

          • Simms~

            For me it’s my second daughter that threw my life course for a loop moreso than the first. That said, she is everything that I need her to be and then some even at 8 years old. Don’t know where my life would be without them for real.

            • MsCee

              My 5 year old literally encouraged me to loose weight. She gave up soda, snacks etc with me so we wouldn’t have to keep it in the house. She has definitely been here before. She told me “Mom, you do so much for me…it’s time for you to do something for you.” That gave me chills.

              • Simms~

                Reading about it gave me chills so I can only imagine how you felt. Some days I’m like “why me” but those days are few and far between. Wouldn’t choose differently if I had to make the choice again. Continue loving that little muchkin to pieces.

              • miss t-lee

                That is so sweet.

              • I dunno about you, but I wonder sometimes which of the ancestors decided to inhabit my children’s bodies at any given moment because the things they say and do really can’t be explained otherwise.

                Nothing like two tiny hands pressing into yours to make you feel like you’re a superhero.

          • Same here. My first sun made me a parent, but my second sun has made me a better parent. I used to think it was an exaggeration when people said kids changed their lives, but it’s the truest thing I’ve ever heard.

            I have to remember to thank them when they’re old enough to appreciate it.

            • Bethkanderson

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            • Ruthmharris

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        • Simms~

          There really is something to be said for listening to those messages when they are sent by the Universe. Hope it all aligns for you just as it should.

          • Thank you so much. I have a quote from the poem Desiderata tatted on my leg:

            “no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”

            I can’t tell you how much it’s meant to me over the years and how much strength can come from just being open to the message. I’m about to be testifying in here today lmao

            • Simms~

              Clearly there are messages to be heard in here for me today as well. I haven’t even thought about the Desiderata since I left secondary school but now I’m about to go Google it and take in its lessons. Thanks for that.

              • You’re welcome! I used to have a huge poster of it hanging in my dorm because I could take something from it every single day. It’s powerful.

                • Simms~

                  Going to share it with my 21 year old right now. She needs some direction and this is a good starting place. Thanks ma’am.

      • C. M.


    • Muze

      Thank you for this. ????

  • siante

    This hits close to home. I’m in tears. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Val


  • Ess Tee

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s beautiful in how open it is.

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