The Skin And The Arils

A dormant pomegranate bonsai, Longwood Gardens

This summer, results from bloodwork and imaging landed me in the office of a gynecologic oncologist. Let’s operate, he said. I don’t think it’s cancer, but we need to operate.

Twelve days later, I would wake up in the post-surgical recovery unit and have to be told what scenario happened while I was anesthetized. My answer was a total hysterectomy and a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

When I got into bed that night (At home! Thanks, laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery!) I mourned.

The place where I grew my babies, all four of them, was gone. The space that saw a miscarriage at 12 weeks. The space where Hank unknowingly passed away at 33 weeks. The space that, finally, got it’s shit together and figured out how to produce two living children.

The physical thread between this mother and those children was gone. Where did this leave me? I had more identity in my fertility than I realized.

In 2010, when I was newly pregnant for the first time, I read Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-daughter Story Novel by Ann Kidd Taylor and Sue Monk Kidd.

I learned that the pomegranate has great significance to many cultures and there are lots of references to them in religious text. It’s obviously a symbol of life and fertility due to the abundance of jeweled seeds. It is also a symbol of blood, and death.

My surgery this summer was necessary. There were too many reasons for it to take place, quickly. Is this what a pomegranate feels like once it’s peeled, with seeds gone? Is this what it’s like to let something meaningful go?

Even though there is a lot that is missing now, there is a lot that isn’t. The physical piece of me that carried my babies is gone, but so much isn’t. Like, my health.

The beauty of the pomegranate lies in the luscious, deep red arils. These babies are the prizes of life. The arils are the legacy, and the next step in the cycle. If women are peeled like the pomegranate, no longer the holder of the ruby gems but only skin around a hollow space, are we still as valuable and prized?

Yes.

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