Sometimes the stars align and you are in the right place at the right time with the right person. I decided tonight on a whim after working out that I would quickly stop and get my eyebrows waxed and my hair trimmed. I have been putting it off for weeks and weeks avoiding the task because I cant seem to find the time to shower much less leave the boys with their dad to escape and get a hair trim. 2 hours later I returned home with red rimmed eyes, a sniffling nose, a full heart, and a cute new haircut. There is no doubt in my mind that people cross paths for a reason and I know without a doubt tonight that some outside force led me to that chair and my new hairdresser and friend, Priscilla.
Priscilla shared that she was feeling tired tonight because her son, Caleb, isn’t a great sleeper. What started as a typical mom conversation about ages, interests, and all things motherhood turned into one of the most meaningful and heartfelt conversations of my life. You see, Priscilla got pregnant in 2015 after a decade of miscarriages. She talked me through the sheer joy of hearing the doctor say there were not one but two babies during the ultrasound!
What should have been Cloud 9 instead resulted in the loss of one of the twins and her mother getting very sick around the same time. She began driving to visit her mom 4-5 times a week at a hospital in Norfolk while working full time and trying to rest as much as possible for her unborn baby. She shared the exhaustion of trying to hold her family together and knowing that her mom needed her during that time and feeling like it was a delicate balancing act every day. Unfortunately, Priscilla’s mother passed away four months later, a few days before Thanksgiving. She was able to be with her mom when she passed away, which hit me right in the heart strings as I had been present when my grandpa passed away and it was such a sacred and special moment. She shared that her mom was too weak to speak during those last few days but reached out and touched her growing belly during one particular visit. It made me think of my grandpa, and how he would say he was trying to hold on to meet Grayson but died a month and a half before he was born. Priscilla was around 25 weeks pregnant at the time and when baby boy moved and she said her moms face lit up with love. Baby boy moved one more time that day before her mom took her last breath.
On the night after her mothers funeral she went into labor. She raced to the hospital scared and unsure of what would happen to the baby since it was so early in the pregnancy. After all of the loss she had experienced with her other pregnancies she stated that she NEEDED this baby to survive. She gave birth to a one and a half pound baby boy the next day after they tried to stop her labor unsuccessfully. The doctors instructed her to call family because it was not likely he would make it through the night and the chaplains came and prayed. She had just buried her mother and now she might have to bury her son and I felt her pain as I sat in the chair silently listening to her story. Priscilla shared that the doctors warned her that Caleb was very small and that seeing him may be difficult. She said she went to the NICU and her teensy tiny baby looked just like her mother. I will paraphrase her journey a bit to say that Caleb has since had 6 surgeries and has spent countless hours in hospitals, doctors offices, emergency rooms, and with various health care professionals to help him grow and develop. Priscilla calls him a fighter and radiates like a doting mother when talking about his progress. YEY! Priscilla thanks Caleb’s angel grandma for his progression and health.
I realized that Priscilla was speaking a story I knew all too well and hit very close to home in so many ways. One of loss and sadness and happiness and the joy and preciousness of motherhood all woven together. One of guardian angels and loved ones we miss. As Priscilla spoke and I listened, nodding and wiping my eyes and sniffling I was hit with the realization that this woman who appears to have nothing in common with me at first glance has more in common with me than she will ever know. I do not know what you believe in – whether its God, Karma, Universe, Positive Vibes – whatever it may be. But, I believe that there are two women out there who thought their daughters may need to meet. Or maybe the universe aligned just right so that these two women could cross paths tonight and aligned the visit just right so that the salon was empty except for them.
You see – its hard mothering without a mother. You are so busy “mothering” some days you realize you didn’t think of her. But its often the happiest days that you think of her the most. When you are surrounded by your closest friends and family celebrating your youngest baby boy turning 1 and all you can do is look around and think “Gosh I wish she were here.” I looked into Grayson’s eyes last night rocking him to sleep and thinking My god, she would love your fat little toes and thick blond hair and blue eyes. She would love that this sweet cuddly grandson of hers is a spitting image of the fat blond hair and blue eyed little girl she birthed and rocked to sleep just like I am doing right this second. I sat down last night to do my handwritten note to Grayson on his birthday to add to the journal I keep for him and I just couldn’t write it. I couldn’t bring myself to put into words how much I wished his grandma were here in person and how truly heartbreaking it is that he will never know her laugh, her mannerisms, her love of fitness, her love of birds, all things Starbucks, bluegrass music, walks around Midlothian Mines Park trails, late night Walgreen’s candy runs, and her tone of voice that if you could catch just right had her mountain upbringing hidden in some very country sounding syllables.
Tonight’s “quick” trip to get a hair cut reminded me that sometimes you just need a little reminder that you are never alone. A reminder that we are all in this Game of Life together. Sometimes you need a conversation with a stranger which felt like we had known each other for years. You just need to be present, ask questions, and listen – because you just don’t know who you may meet and who may have stacked the cards to put you and that person together for just the right reason when you need it most. Don’t miss that moment because your surfing the internet or scrolling on social media. Be aware and be open.
So as we hugged and said our goodbye’s and see you soon’s, I looked up at the sky and said thanks mom, I needed that. Because just like a typical mom would do, she knew what I needed before I even knew I had needed it myself.
Here is my homework assignment for everyone this week: Have a conversation with a stranger or someone you do not know very well. Ask questions and truly listen. Don’t judge a book by its cover. You will be surprised how much you have in common with someone if you just open up your heart and listen.