Eight years ago on this day, my second child was born. Since, Gabriel has shown himself to be independent, empathetic, intelligent, compassionate and endlessly, energetically curious.

His birth was a whirlwind. He exited too quickly, fracturing my pelvis and failing to be squished enough by contractions to have the water forced from his lungs. The doctor and nurses whisked him away from me. We spent the next three days observing his breathing, me in intense pain and full of post-partum hormones and fear. It eventually turned into depression.

That isn’t a happy memory, really. But this is: In the darkest throes of depression, Gabriel found me on the kitchen floor. He was walking then. I lost a lot of his first three years. Still, I remember him squatting down to see my face. His chubby cheeks and tiny voice as he whispered, “Mama.” He put his hand on my face, and when he saw that I was milling in broken thoughts, he slid his body warm against mine and held me.

Gabriel has always known how to be quiet and present. You wouldn’t guess it given how much he chatters. He is a sensitive, caring individual who arrived with flourish, exists with flourish. His warmth and presence pulled me out of darker waters than I’ve since swum.

I think often about how much peace I felt when he arrived even amidst the turmoil. How, with Gabriel, a new kind of joy was born that persistently warms me as do his hugs and that perfect spray of freckles across the bridge of his nose.

What or who came into your life at a difficult time and proved to be an agent of positive change?

This is Day 5 of the 30 Day #LinkYourLife Challenge. Find the full prompt list here. 

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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