This Wednesday, which is a day in the future as I write this, and which will be at least one day in the past as you read it, is the day my 11-month old granddaughter’s cleft palate will be repaired.

Her health care team has  prepared my son and daughter-in-law for what to expect the day of surgery and during the two week recovery period. 

Two weeks! That incredibly short recovery period is a reminder of a miracle. It’s a “miracle” that  has that’s been scientifically studied and is that still holds mystery.

The “miracle” I’m talking about is the astonishingly rapid early development of us humans, which allows an entirely dependent newborn infant to become a walking, talking, loving, thinking, interacting being. The process unfolds  right before our eyes from the very first days of life, and it means (among many other things) that the body heals astonishingly quickly. That’s a major asset  when a baby requires surgery.

Struggling in the Dark

I will be very honest. Preparing for this day of surgery has been rough. I’ve wished that Sophia didn’t have to go through this. I’ve wished I could wave a wand that allow her and her parents could bypass the stressful and painful necessity of this surgery. I’ve felt a buildup of painful and dark feelings within.

I realized I needed to write what I was experiencing, and yesterday I took the time to do that. 

Some pretty strong feelings surfaced, a combination of those tied to past experiences and those coming up in the present.  My eyes welled and tears flowed as I wrote. I felt pretty lousy for a while afterwards, filled with protest at the thought of what Sophia has to endure.  

A Change in Perspective

After writing it all out, honestly describing my deepest thoughts and feelings, those difficult feelings started to shift. I found acceptance. I found a sense of calmness and peace.

I remembered that all can do is be there for her and her parents, and be there, and be there. And I remembered that that in itself is a lot.  

That’s how I will help my granddaughter, my son, and my daughter-in-law.

How Writing Helps When You’re Struggling in the Dark

This is the kind of experience that has shown me that I can trust the writing process to take me where I need to go. The carefully structured writing approach allows me to make sense of what has happened. I can then understand it  from a different perspective. I can  see what there is to be learned, and use that to help myself and others. I can look ahead and understand how a difficult past or current event becomes a part of the fabric of my life. 

Today I feel lighter. I have freed up energy that is now available for tomorrow’s challenges. There is nothing I have to do, really.  I just have to be, in contact with those others I care for so much. 

A Positive and Realistic Vision for the Future

Having expressed and released those darker feelings, I can hold a clear, hopeful and realistic vision of the near future. I am seeing  Sophia, hearing her laughter, watching her active exploratory play, her joyful silliness, her first independent steps, hearing her first words. I look forward to us all being with this near-future Sophia, healed, whole and joyfully growing.


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