Perspective. Point of view. The way you look at things. Is the cup half empty or half full or are you just glad that you have a cup? Does the word fierce have a positive or negative connotation?

On the morning of November 17, 1984, I was done. DONE. My baby’s due date had come and gone eleven days prior. I was huge, had to pee every ten seconds, couldn’t breathe, and was simply miserable. I detested those women who say that they love how they feel when they are pregnant. I’d had “morning sickness” 24/7 since the second I conceived for 42+ weeks. This baby needed to come out, NOW!

My perspective changed later that day as labor got into the full swing of things. I knew it was going to hurt, but I didn’t expect this. It could stop now. I didn’t need to have a baby today. Later that evening, I was the proud owner of a disgustingly squishy belly as I took in the delightful smell of my newborn son. Love, joy, amazement, rapture and being dang proud of what I created exuded from every cell of my being.

Three days later, those emotions were replaced with sadness, sorrow, grief, and an emotional pain that far exceeded the physical pain of childbirth as I said good-bye to my son and left the hospital empty-handed. A few hours later as my darkness just deepened, another woman was weeping tears of gladness as her prayers of being a mother were answered as her newborn son, my son, was placed in her arms.

My next few weeks were filled with other emotions: sadness, exhaustion, longing, stubbornness, depression, and an intense defiant attitude of self-ownership, discovery, and even pride. There were days in which I felt like I was one tough cookie and walked with a confident strength that I didn’t think possible. Then, WHAM! the next day I would be a puddle of misery and gloom and was as steady as Christmas lawn decorations in the Wyoming winter wind. Even on my super-girl days, the long fingers of grief were always lurking, just waiting to pluck my happiness until I could no longer breathe.

I lived my life that way for so long that when it began to ebb, I didn’t even notice. Over a year had gone by when I caught myself singing a nonsensical tune as I was walking down the hall at school. I was so caught off-guard that I stopped. I thought to myself, “Am I happy? Is this what happy feels like?” It was a strange enough feeling that I wasn’t sure. Yes, in the last year I had smiled and even laughed, but it was all fake. I never really felt those things. I had decided that I was no longer capable of those types of feelings.

Time continued on, and I found an increased number of happy moments. I learned to enjoy things again. Yet, the ever-present grief reaper was ready to bring havoc to my emotions. Both small and large things triggered me, and it was usually unexpected.

Somehow there were friends and family, holidays and surprises. There was love and even marriage and then the inexpressible joy of one, two, and then three babes in arms as I was leaving the hospital. I played and laughed with my children, but I was always watchful for another child, a boy, wherever I went. Mother’s Day was always bittersweet, and I couldn’t shake sadness around November 17th every year. Yet, there were times, even days and then weeks, when the grief stayed away. It always, however, came back, usually briefly, but with intensity.

Perspective. Point of view. The way you look at things. I’m a grandma now. Many of the things my grandchildren do that make me laugh now made me crazy frustrated when my children did them. Some days my cup is half full and some it is half empty, but I’m always grateful to have a cup. I was given additional perspective when I heard it said that it doesn’t matter if the cup is half full or half empty because the true point is that the cup is refillable. I like that. My cup has been refilled over and over and over again over the years. At times it is empty or pretty darn near; yet, it doesn’t stay that way forever. Sometimes my cup is filled with water, sometimes with the bubbles of a soda pop, and sometimes with chocolate milk—my favorite!

As I reflect about that time when I didn’t think I would ever be happy again, I am grateful for my well-earned perspective and a point of view that would never have come if I hadn’t walked in the darkness.