May 21st was a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Tom and I had recently discussed me getting out of the house more, so I took a walk. It felt kind of significant.
Since Willow’s birth every day has been a kind of dichotomy for me. I love being her mama and I love being home with her, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss some freedoms I had before. Ironically, on the occasions I do get a little personal freedom, I miss her. A lot.
On this particular sunny day I was very much looking forward to some time by myself. I stepped out the door, put on my headphones that make me feel much cooler than I actually am, and before long the familiar and comforting sounds of Indie Folk Pandora propelled me forward.
Often these songs remind me of what feel like past lives. Ellen at 21, Ellen at 23, Ellen at 26. Each year was its own veritable roller coaster. Each life has its own iconic snapshots. I’m grateful for each of these lives – they are filled with all the memories, joys, and heartbreak that have made me who I am. They are Tom’s wife. They are Willow’s mother.
Then this song came on.
My salvation lies in your love.
That line echoed over and over again and I was grateful I could cry behind my sunglasses. Of course it made me think of my husband and my little daughter, who are my everything. But it was more than that.
For days I had been writing a letter. The idea of writing it had hit me (seemingly) out of nowhere and then the words just kept on coming. I’d been struggling with certain concepts, though. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until this day, on this walk, with this song playing.
There was one constant throughout all my previous lives. It was my best friend. It was you.
And all the hurt and all the misunderstanding fell away and all that was left was love. I knew what I’d known for longer than I could admit – that nothing else mattered. Nothing. I’d made lots of decisions based on the concept that life is just too short, and I suddenly felt foolish that I hadn’t considered that when it came to our relationship.
When I got home I published my letter. I was still too afraid to do anything more direct than that. I figured that if she saw it and wanted to get in touch with me, she would. And she did.
Last week, as I rode the train to meet her, my heart was in my throat. During the days prior I had imagined the happy, heartfelt reunion I longed for but I didn’t want to make any kinds of assumptions. Fortunately, the second we saw each other and hugged…I knew it would all be okay.
It is so amazing for me to write that this story has a happy ending. I think on some level it will always hurt that we spent two years apart when we should have been there for each other, but my guess is that after long it will be a distant memory. In a way it already feels like that. Not that I think it should be forgotten. I think it should serve as a reminder to always keep the lines of communication open. Ultimately, it’s a reminder to never take something so important for granted.
The morning after we saw each other I woke up feeling happier than I had in a long time. The ache in my heart had subsided and I had forgotten how good it felt to be whole. Because really, that’s what it was.
One of my biggest existential issues with becoming a mom is not that I feel like a different person. Rather, I feel like the same person who now happens to be a mom. When I hear those songs I have the same depth of feeling and all the same memories – and for a while, I didn’t have you to share them with.
Most people think of soul mates in a romantic sense, but I challenge that. I’m not saying my husband isn’t a soul mate of mine – he is, and I love him endlessly. The truth is I met my first soul mate when I was twelve. She lent me a pen.
My salvation lies in your love. Because you saved me, over and over again. From pain, from doubt, from being alone. From myself.
And now, you’ve saved me again.
I love you.