Twenty Years Ago Today…By Andrea on February 28, 2011 — 15 Comments
Twenty years ago today, the Gulf War came to a peaceful end after four days of fierce fighting.
At this exact time, I gave birth to Talulah Raven, my strange, remarkable daughter. Had she lived, she would be a young woman now making her way in the world. While she chose to only visit me briefly, she utterly changed my life, partly by choosing not to stay.
Today, I honour her presence in my life for I owe much to her, even though that time was the most humbling period of my life.
The doctors induced me just as the fighting in the Middle East began. I was in labour for the entire four days. It was a strangely numinous time. I laboured knowing that this baby would not live, yet wanting her to have as graceful and natural a passage from birth through to death as possible.
By the time I was in the hospital, I knew her fate. She was a dwarf, one of the ‘little people.’ In this form, she could have survived, however, the determining factor was that her wee chest held only a heart, no lungs. She would never breathe.
This was part of her gift to me, for I did not have to make the very difficult decisions about her tiny body. She was very clear. “Nothing you can do will help. Let me be and let me go… then integrate the strange message of my presence in your life.”
Surrounded by a circle of strong, loving women, I struggled with the heart-opening of loving a baby, followed by the shock of not creating a ‘perfect’ child, then the grief of turning everything within me to let her go.
Pregnancy opens a woman completely, each and every time. Adding to a series of other losses, this pregnancy dropped me to my knees. In the early months, my lover, Talulah Raven’s father, left me and my two young sons. Shortly after that, my ex-husband died suddenly. These events left us reeling. On top of this, we had recently left the comforts of a large spiritual community where I’d spent the past twenty years. Though I was excited about my new life, I moved away from many friends and a very structured support system.
Talulah Raven was born late in the morning, February 28th, 1991. I held her on my stomach for the twenty-five minutes of her short life, singing softly to her as the pulsing cord linking us gradually slowed. I held and marvelled at her beautiful little body for several hours while the doctor, a very compassionate woman, gave me quiet space to be with her. Later that afternoon I left the hospital, my breasts bound and swelling with milk. Supported by my new community, we held a sacred ceremony, named her and scattered her ashes.
In the following months, I was numb and disoriented. Seeking some answers, I consulted a wise woman and though she knew nothing about Talulah Raven, as soon as she began tuning in she saw her. “There is a beautiful woman who wants to communicate with you…” she said, going on to describe her. Immediately, I understood what I had to do.
Receiving the Gift
I came home and began writing; for the next four years, I let myself open to her guidance. In this form of deep embodied listening, reassured by the powerful presence of her memory in my body, she mothered me through the painful yet creative steps of moving on, growing up, and stepping into my new work. Through this time, I learned to trust my intuition and to receive guidance beyond my best ideas. She suggested I write poetry to help open my rather rigid brain; this took me into a deeper connection with my body opening the way for me to comprehend the poetic language of the plants.
I have written elsewhere about the origins of Raven Essences, describing how a colleague asked me to make a flower essence from the Datura plant in my co-creative garden. That is the literal start of the project, but this story reveals the dark soil from which Raven Essences came to be. I share this with you now so that you can appreciate the challenge and the joy of receiving strange gifts, ones that challenge us to go deeper, breathe in and through pain, and to keep growing into our fullness.
Today, as I listen to the news from the Middle East with the groundswell of creative protest roaring through the hearts of so many people, I feel the threads of connection to my own life, once in such upheaval and now, so richly fulfilling and creative.
Though I do not call upon her in the same way as I did before, Talulah Raven is closely in my heart today. At one point, she said, “My work with you is done. Do not publish what we have shared… that was for you alone. I will publish myself through the essences.”
And I do believe she has.
Related Blogs: Other significant moments in my Creative process