#BodiesMatter: Full


“Four nana”, at two-years’ old, breathless counting for my parents.
Letting them know how many other babies were in the hospital ward with me.                                                     As I struggled with asthma,
God had already planted a seed…
The beginning of a fullness in my belly.

Tenacious teenager, on a bus in New York City                                                                                                               Consoling a stranger whose weeping tugged at my heart strings
Miscarriage…a lost baby, my tender years not understanding the depth of her pain
Praying out loud in public for her, secreting a communication to heaven for me
“Lord, let this not pass with me, as I anticipate the fullness of my belly”.

Celebrating with joy the good news of upper classmen in college                                                                               Beginning their families with squirming, pink-cheeked bundles                                                                                 How I loved to babysit,
Looking forward to the time I would feel the fullness in my belly.

Nausea, a swelling waistline                                                                                                                                                 Fibroids! They’re benign, thanks be to God                                                                                                                     Healing from a myomectomy.                                                                                                                                             Whew! Dodged that bullet. Hope for a fullness in my belly.

Years pass. They’re back with a vengeance!                                                                                                                    This time my protruding belly rivals that of any expecting woman.                                                                          Another surgery? Then I, too, can post birth announcements and pictures                                                                       on social media,                                                                                                                                                            Telling of the fullness that had been in my belly.

The very vessel that was created to protect a newly formed life                                                                                   Now threatened to rob me of my own.
Bleeding out…on the brink of a cardiac episode because of a low blood count.                                                       IT MUST COME OUT!
No…wait.  Perhaps a friend will make a deposit at the (sperm) bank.
Hopes dashed and I prayed to die in the operating room,                                                                                             Spiraling into depression as they prepared to remove the
tumor-riddled fullness of my belly.

What is that light? A window? Tears from my surgeon’s eyes teetering perilously
on the rims of his lower eyelids.                                                                                                                                              “We almost lost you on the table.”
He manages to choke out the rest of his ‘welcome back to this side of life’:
“I’m a Muslim, but we believe in the same God.
You are God’s messenger to the people.
Keep preaching, keep loving them,
because God has called you to be the mother of many…”

Another light…Angels! My wonderful friends emailing me
pictures of their first born from the moment he came into this world.
“Get well soon, and don’t forget your son in Fredonia.”
They share the baby with me, healing takes places as I cuddle the wee one.                                    Precious…my spiritual son.
The phantom fullness moves from my womb-less belly to become the fullness of my heart.
Thank you God for giving me a heart
that loves all the children you bring into my life through my amazing family and friends. Mama Cheni.

Yes, I will even be a mum to my parishioners.

Sing, O barren one who did not bear;
burst into song and shout,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate woman will be more
than the children of her that is married, says the Lord.  Isaiah 54:1  NRSV

Cheni Khonje