the new shape of my heart

I cry in the bathroom some mornings when I think other people are just waiting for me to finish brushing my teeth. I stand stock-still at the sink and look at my reflection, touch the skin so effortlessly joined together over my cheekbones, the same place where the doctors will help my son’s skin join back together, scar tissue so much stronger than my own.

The days are getting warmer, summer bending around the next corner.

I smell the lilacs every time I pass them going in and out.

These past few weeks my heart has been stretched tight like the skin across my belly that pulls as my son grows, sometimes what seems like leaps and bounds every day. It has been pulled deep and hard, the same old words repeated: take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid. Words from Jesus, not just for Peter.. My heart has learned that there are fewer words, not more, that should be anchored in us: perhaps only these:

Take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid.

Jackson kicks often now, insisting on his presence, his being alive. His being, of course, mine and not mine. He pushes at me and sometimes it feels like he is shouting his own annunciation. You are my mom. No one else. And I am your son, no one else, and when I put my hand next to him and there is nothing but skin between us, I know this more than I know anything else:

My son is beloved by God. And I must be, too, because God let me wrap my skin and self around him for all these long months of his becoming.

On the mornings I freeze in the bathroom, overcome, Jackson still kicks, but more gently. He is brave for me more than I am brave for him.


I started this post thinking I would talk about the shape of my heart, how it has changed. Then I thought it would be about how grief is a strange, unexpected guest, one that joins you some mornings with the smell of lilacs and toothpaste when you touch your skin and imagine your son. Then I thought it would be about fear, and love, and walking on water.

But it is none of those things.

It’s just a post about my son, who kicks and moves to a music I cannot hear, whose skin will be stronger than my own, who shows me we are both God’s beloved.

My heart does have a new, surprising shape: the shape of being his mom.



5 thoughts on “the new shape of my heart

  1. Writing can take you unexpected places in grief and in transition. Those are probably the only times I write at all, these days. Grateful always for your words and perspective, Hilary.

  2. Thank you, Hilary, for the beauty of your words and heart. I am grateful to God for giving Jackson an extraordinary. loving and godly mom like you! My heart overflows. I love you so much.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Hi Hilary,

    I follow both your blog and Preston’s blog. Thank you for sharing such vulnerability over and over again. Jackson is so blessed to be your son. it is so clear how deeply loved he is.

    I teach fifth grade and my favorite book to read with my class is called Wonder, and it’s about a young boy who has facial deformities and health complications, not unlike Jackson. It is a beautiful story filled with compassion, joy, strength, and the grace filled struggle of growing up not quite the same as everyone else. If you haven’t read it, I hope you do. It has done so much for me and my students, and I think it might speak to you and Preston in such a good, challenging, and uniquely powerful way.

    Thanks for being Jackson’s mom.

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