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How the Chaos in my Life Led to Great Change

by Hannah Kelley
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“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”  This quote by Deepak Chopra resonates with me.  I get it, because I lived it.  The greatest change that EVER happened to me came during the most chaotic time of my life.

The chaos that descended upon me seemed to erupt out of nowhere, like a dormant volcano that lulls the nearby inhabitants into a state of placidity.  They feel safe, secure.  Life is as it always has been, as it always will be.  Until the day that the volcano explodes, sending lava raining down on those complacent villagers, changing their lives forever.  Some will perish, others will adapt, accept the changes that have come, and learn to move on.  For me, the greatest change in my life likely would not have happened had it not been for the turmoil that preceded it.

I know what you’re going to say, I’m being way too cryptic.  I’m getting to the point, promise!  Our daughter turned 4-years-old last week.  I’ve spent a lot of time recently marveling at the fact that we have this little miracle at all.  We were NOT going to have children.  My husband and I decided that early in our relationship.  We both liked kids, but we were happy just the two of us.

The reaction our decision got from our families was mixed.  My husband’s parents were supportive of our decision, but I believe they were also disappointed.  My parents, oddly enough, were happy to hear that we planned on remaining a duo.  I’m really not sure why they felt this way, but they did.  Other family members said that we would change our minds.  I scoffed at this.  We knew what we wanted, we had made our decision, and that was that.

Then came the chaos.  My mother was diagnosed with 3 primary cancers: liver, ovarian, and uterine.  Her doctors had never seen 3 cases of primary cancer before.   I’ve spoken a bit about my mother before, but not in the same context.  To say that I was devastated by the news of her diagnosis would be the understatement of the century.  Unfortunately, I know that many of you can relate to how I felt.  My mother was my best friend.  She was my greatest cheerleader.  She was the Lorelei to my Rory, a reference my fellow Gilmore Girls fans will understand.

After her diagnosis, Mom fought hard.  She underwent surgery and one round of chemotherapy.  During this time, I noticed a change coming over me.  Mom’s illness brought me face-to-face with my own mortality, and I started questioning me and Jeremy’s no-child decision.

Did we really want to leave this world without leaving a little slice of ourselves behind?  During her struggles, Mom told me again and again how much she loved me, and how thankful she was that she had me.  She did not think she could have children, so I had been a wonderful surprise for her and dad.  Mom once told me that nobody would ever love me as much as she did, because a mother’s love is one-of-a-kind.  Now, watching my mother struggle, and yet still nurture me the entire time, I realized that I did not want to miss out on this rite of passage in so many women’s lives.

I found out I was pregnant exactly one week before Mom passed away.  Jeremy and me were excited and happy, if a bit scared.  We got pregnant right away, so we really had to adjust to our big decision as we adapted to our new life as expectant parents.

We told Mom and Dad the news 3 days before we lost my mother.  I was very nervous about telling them.  After all, they were content with their non-grandparent status.  Thankfully, they were happy for us.  We told Jeremy’s parents in the hospital lobby.  They were over the moon.  It was a happy day, tinged with sadness.  I think we all knew at that point that Mom’s prognosis was getting bleaker.  She knew it was unlikely that she would live to see her grandchild.  She still celebrated with us and showed her pride by telling everyone who entered her room our news.

After Mom’s death, life was almost unbearable.  Not only was I dealing with her loss, but I was also suffering from morning sickness.  Between losing Mom and constant nausea, there were days I could not get out of bed.  I was blessed to have my husband, Dad, and all of our family to help me through the darkest days of my life.

The one thing that kept me going was the little life growing inside me.  I bonded with our miracle immediately, reading to the baby, playing music for it, and constantly talking to it.  I prayed for a little girl, so that I could name her after my Mom.  I was so excited on that cold and dreary January morning to find out that we were, indeed, having a daughter.

The day Bella was born was, without a doubt, the happiest day of my life!  We were surrounded by our loved ones, and I felt so blessed at the love they showed our little girl.  My wonderful mother-in-law stayed with us for almost a week after Bella’s birth.  I would have been lost without her.  My aunt, Mom’s sister, came and stayed with us one night after my mother-in-law left.  She told me that on the day of Bella’s birth, she visited Mom’s grave and told her all about her beautiful new granddaughter.

Fast-forward four years, and here we are with a smart and sassy little girl who will start preschool in the fall.  When we think back to our pre-Bella existence, it’s hard for us to believe that we ever wanted to skip the experience of parenthood.  I am certainly NOT saying that being a parent is for everyone.  It’s a huge responsibility, and one that not everyone wants to take on.  I like to put it this way: for the rest of your life, your heart will be walking around outside of your chest.  If that’s not a heavy obligation, I don’t know what is!

I wish daily that my mother was here to see her granddaughter.  Bella is so much like my Mom.  Jeremy says that she is a little Belle.  I would have liked to see my mother through the eyes of my daughter.  I would like to tell her that now I understand the sacrifices she made for me on a daily basis.

The greatest and happiest change in my life came out of the worst and most devastating chaos.  Talk about a juxtaposition!  That’s the way life works, isn’t it?  We can’t always have our cake and eat it too.  Sometimes it takes tragedy to make us see the one thing that we were missing all along.

What are some of the greatest changes that came out of YOUR moments of chaos??  Please comment below!

 

Xo,

Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 comments

Charlie | The Barefoot Angel July 17, 2018 - 12:03 am

I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother – but how amazing that you have such a beautiful reminder of her in your daughter! X

Reply
Hannah Kelley July 17, 2018 - 1:20 am

Thank you! She’s a blessing, for sure!

Reply
Simone July 18, 2018 - 3:24 am

I’m sorry to hear about your mother. It amazes me how big events in our lives can really make us rethink the path we are taking. When I got diagnosed with a chronic illness I also was in the beginning stages of a relationship. I had the choice of pushing him away or keeping him around and he stuck by my side through the worst parts of getting me back to a healthier point. Thank you for sharing.

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Hannah Kelley July 18, 2018 - 1:59 pm

Thank you. I hope you are doing better! It’s amazing to me how the worst times in our lives can lead us to the best things.

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