In the mean time....
It's a brilliant collection of 36 individual stories, collected from around the world
The BOOK INTRO:
There are moments in our lives that change us and shape us. This book is a unique collection of stories from all over the world. All of the authors have graciously allowed us to publish their personal stories of courage and vulnerability. Each author brings their individual voice and their honesty at a level that may just "Take Your Breath Away."
Moments That Took MY Breath Away
By: Christina Marie in Pennsylvania, USA
When I walked through the first set of double-doors to the church I was reflecting on how I grew up in this place. All of my Catholic school experiences, my first Holy Communion, confession, Confirmation. The last time I had stepped foot in this church was the christening of my son who was now a healthy and happy three year old. I had gone from a Catholic school girl attending church every Sunday to barely remembering to go to mass, even on the holidays.
When I walked through the second set of doors, the church was packed! Full of people, many of whom, I have never seen before this moment. I was not expecting this!
It took my breath away...
You could hear a pin drop, that’s how silent the room had become. As I took my seat the music started and everyone stood up. As the double-doors opened again, the echoing shocked-gasp vibrated through the church. They weren't expecting that
To take their breath away...
Through the doors, a teeny- tiny white casket, the size of a breadbox was coming through the doors. As they wheeled this teeny tiny casket toward the front of the church, I noticed a large man (whom I did not know) crying a deep heartfelt, unapologetic cry.
This took my breath away...
Now all eyes were burning through me. I could feel the depth of sorrow, empathy and compassion being sent my way as everyone waited for my reaction since the baby in the casket was the same baby I had given birth to 20 days earlier.
Standing at the front of the church with my incision burning, nursing-ready breast throbbing and my heart bursting into a million pieces, I was not expecting any of this.
It was all taking my breath away...
I was in awe over the level of humanity that showed up in my life from the moment of his birth through the next few years which I jokingly refer to as my, "I-was-a-complete- nightmare" years.
All those years growing up in the Roman Catholic Church did not penetrate me nearly as deeply as those 20 days of being in “IT,” followed by the next few years of trying desperately to heal “IT.” Whatever
“IT” was; that needed to be healed.
My second son’s birth and death became a forced entry-point into spirit. I was brought to my knees and that's when everything opened up for me.
A few years later, my father said to me, “Christina, you had a cosmic crack!” I smiled a deep-to-the-core smile of resignation because the words, “You had a cosmic crack”completely lined up with what I felt I had experienced.
These words took my breath away...
From the moment of my son’s birth, everything was happening at warp speed. In February of 1995 and for the next few years, my spiritual path and journey was intense. By July, I left my marriage and I did this without blinking an eye or a tear. I was very cold and I didn't care. My desire to be married died with this baby.
In those first few months and years, I didn't see or care at all about anyone else’s pain or heartache. My love, compassion and empathetic abilities were all severely blocked from everyone except my three year old. But there was even a period of time where I didn't even see him. I was taking care of him on automatic pilot for a solid few weeks after his brother’s death until his day- care teacher confronted me.
When I went to pick him up, she gently grabbed my hand and said, "Come with me. I want to show you something." Guiding me into the play room where all the children were playing together, way over on the other side of the room sat my son, alone. He was sitting in the corner with his arms crossed as if to protect himself and his little head was sunk down low.
This took my breath away...
My heart shattered into a million little pieces all over again. The intensity of my motherly guilt felt as
heavy as a brick house falling on top of me. “How could I not even notice this?” and “What kind of mother doesn't notice something like this?” My son had been known in day-care as "The Mayor!" He was always happy, always engaged in play, loved learning and his essence was always bubbling with pure joy. This boy in the corner was not that same little boy.
This was my fault. He had a cosmic crack too and I had been so selfish in my grieving that I didn't even notice. The tears ran down my face. I knew in that moment that I had to “snap out of it!” I only had just enough "giving" left in me to give to him. There just wasn't enough “giving” inside of me to extend past being his mom again; to being a wife; to being able to be anything like I was before.
The mother who was once attentive to him, in every moment, is the mother I needed to be again and I needed to be that again now! I will never know what “the missing mom” did to him or how that moment in time changed him. It’s taken me a long time to know how it changed me.
As I began my journey into healing all of the “IT’S”~ (yes, with a capital I and a capital T) ~ slowly I was able to see and hear the impact “my” baby’s death had on others and I learned an important truth.
We mothers often tend to live with the concept, “no one will or could love our children as deeply as we do.” My pain and self-centered grieving reflected this concept. I'm the mom. It's MY body. It’s MY loss!
Not true, not true at all. This baby’s great-grandmother lost her great grandson. My parents and his father’s parents lost their grandson. My aunts and uncles lost their nephew. My cousins lost their cousin. His father lost his son and my son lost his little brother. My dearest friends lost something precious as their love was also there and also pure. What I would later be open enough to hear is, as it turned out, their pain was double my own. Grandparents and parents watched their loved one’s daughter or son- experience going through a tragedy in addition to their loss of a grandson or great-grandson. For them, it was a double whammy. I never even considered this.
It took my breath away...
In September of 2012, my grandmother passed away. I would learn through this, just how deeply her pain and her love was. She demanded to be buried in the same cemetery as her little great- grandson, so she could be resting in peace with him.
This took my breath away...
As a stay-at home mom, when I was pregnant and my older son was napping, I would spend my time reading stories of love and connection. I picked up a book one day and the main character in this book had an amazing way of being in life. He was the kind of man I'd want my son to grow up to be. “Donovan” was this character’s name. I said to myself, “That's it! That's the name of this baby!!” Donovan Hugh Whinnery. As I closed my eyes to breathe this in, I had a vision. I saw his name across a movie screen. I felt it was a strong name that would be powerful. I truly believed my vision would come true because I saw it. His death made this vision a distant memory hidden way back in time.
A few years later, my life had changed dramatically. I was a divorced mom, living on my own, healing all of the “IT’S” and enjoying the process of living authentically when I was invited by one of my brothers to the movie première of a film he wrote and directed. I was excited for him. After the movie ended, the very next image on the screen was the words "In Loving Memory of Donovan Hugh Whinnery". Again, all eyes on me once more. I was not expecting this!
This took my breath away!
In that theater, I was speechless and taken instantly back to the moment on my sofa with a napping child
upstairs and a baby growing in my belly. I had that vision. I saw it, and it did come true. I couldn't speak. It was too amazing, too outstanding, too incredible and way too meaningful to me. I was literally humbled speechless. It was exquisite and it still....
Takes my breath away!
Donovan was born with a rare chromosome disorder and two significant holes in his heart. When we took him home from the hospital, we took him home to die. It was all very intense.
When Donovan died, I was 25 years old. It would take me an additional 10 years to go through all of the strange and twisted mechanisms that my mind created to cope with this loss and I would learn just how “tricky” the combination of hormones and grieving could actually be on many levels. In this altered state I decided that I was a 25 year old “reproductively-defective woman” which became my inner monologue. Truth is, this monologue developed before Donovan.
By the age of 25, my pregnancy numbers didn't add up. It was 3=1. 3 pregnancies = 1 living child. I was 18 years old when I met my children’s father and all of these pregnancies were with him.
I'm 20 years old and four months along when I started hemorrhaging, the ambulance rushing me to the emergency room. The reproductively-defective woman belief is born. It was a very scary experience for me as a young woman. It was also a very emotional and hormonal experience. My second pregnancy, Joseph was born. Arriving 2 weeks early and just 2 ounces shy of being a 9 pound healthy baby boy. He was more than I could hope for. Third time around, that's where Donovan fly's in and out of my life and after that, I became a divorced reproductively-defective woman.
I was, at this point, willing to try just about anything: Cognitive therapy, soul retrieval work, rapid eye therapy, self-help books. I took every workshop and seminar. I investigated every religion: Buddhism, A Course in Miracles, the Baptist church and more. I turned myself into a modern day “Wonder Woman.”
Domesticated? Forget it. I tried that and it was nothing but pure pain. Now it was time to shake things up! It was time to do more, to be more to grow and heal. And I was. I was truly picking up new concepts very quickly because I was so hungry, so thirsty for knowledge, awareness and self-improvement.
What I was also doing, underneath it all was avoiding my grief. I was doing well at work. I became a fitness instructor; got my 1st degree black belt in Martial Arts; took classes, taught classes; became a dance instructor, traveled, entered the US Opens karate competition and placed second in the world...I was doing, doing and doing. In addition to that, I was also alternating being “Mom” for 7 days with Dad being “Dad” for the next 7 days.
What was also going on “under the hood” while all of these amazing things were happening... my pregnancy numbers would continue to change and not add up. By the time I was 34 years old my pregnancy numbers were 6=1. 6 pregnancies =1living child, and the numbers where changing because I was creating a vicious cycle that started after Donovan’s death. I’d get pregnant, be very excited, think about it, get scared, concerned, worried to knowing that I couldn’t go through that again and then I’d completely reject the entire thing. Then move back into my life as if nothing ever happened.
Abortions. The first one being for the man who claimed to love me fiercely for a few years, five to be exact. Suddenly, pregnancy had him singing a different tune. His clarity around not wanting me to have this baby was much clearer and more logical than the confusing mixed crazy reasons I wanted to have this child. So I decided to go with it. I hated him and myself for doing it. So now, on top of the unhealed grief, I was busy adding more ingredients to my big dark ugly secret shame. Once I figured out what my insane cycle was, I stopped putting myself in the cycle that was not serving me. I decided to be a volunteer at one of the abortion clinics where I had to walk through the bullet proof doors asking, “What can I do to help?” I was so pissed that the women were being so viciously harassed that I just took action. Not complained. Not hid. I believe in taking action; doing something that can benefit others to help myself heal my own pain. Being a contribution is an amazing anti-depressant.
Reclaiming my breath
Donovan’s death was almost 18 years ago. Joseph is going to be 21 years old in a few days.
Through the years, Joseph has shared very openly his thoughts, feelings and opinions regarding the intensity and changes that took place after his little brother’s death. Joseph is now a young man with a tattoo on his arm of a Celtic cross with his little brothers name running through it. For him, Donovan represents something meaningful to him that runs deep.
He’s still trying to heal around all of this. Not only did he lose his baby brother, he temporarily lost his mother. Joseph’s world changed completely at 3 years old. Actually, it blew up! He would have preferred that I didn’t leave his dad. Yet, as he gets older and matures, he will have his own insights. He’s on his own journey now to work this out now.
So now I get to say at 43 years old that I want my breath back.
I want to cut through the tape of shame around the intensity that abortion carries with it and stop punishing
myself for being human.
I want my breath back. Therefore, I’m reclaiming it now.
I’ve been waiting to exhale since Donovan left and now I am breathing: Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. I am taking my breath back.
I’m taking my mind back.
I’m taking my truth back.
I am taking ME back.
I’m taking the life I stopped living... I’m taking all that back! I am breathing... inhale exhale inhale exhale ...
so I am alive!
Donovan Hugh Whinnery February 1995