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Dear Juliette: On Beauty & Darkness

Dear Juliette,

You turned eight weeks old a few days ago, and dare I say that you’re also turning a corner. It’s true kiddo — these first two months with you have not been the picnic we were hoping for. No, you’ve been incredibly fussy, tough to soothe and hard to handle. That’s not to say we haven’t delighted in your existence, because we have. But along the way we’ve also been pulling out our hair trying to make you stop crying.

I’ll admit that I’ve been a little depressed and overwhelmed this summer, but I seem to be turning a corner right along side you. All of a sudden it seems as though all you and I are capable of is smiling at each other. I must say it’s a nice change. Your little smiles just make my knees weak. Your dad is in New York right now and you were up at 4:30 this morning, wide awake and snuffling around in bed beside me until I finally turned on the light and we blinked at each other a few times. I could hear crickets outside still and a breeze blew through the window. Your sister slept soundly in her bed in the room next to us and for a few long minutes you and I just smiled and smiled at each other like we had the biggest secret in the world.

Motherhood is an enchanting thing. It’s exquisitely torturous at times too. You’ve broken my heart open all over again and it’s both the sweetest and the most painful thing I’ve ever felt. I remember being eighteen years old and in my freshman year of college. My own mother was dying of cancer and I don’t quite remember what prompted it — perhaps just the vast power of being out on my own in the world for the first real time — but I suddenly came to the realization that there was an incredible beauty to be found in even the most painful experiences. I couldn’t get over it, this epiphany. I recall sitting in my dorm room alone, leaves falling outside the ice cold glass of the windows, and thinking, life is so beautiful, even in the darkest moments. 

It’s something that’s always stayed with me, the knowledge that you can’t have one with out the other: beauty and darkness. They could not exist without the other. That day in my dorm room I tucked the knowledge away inside of me somewhere as though it were a little wishing rock that I could pull out of my pocket and smooth my finger across from time to time. It felt that real. It still does.

I wonder what epiphanies and realizations you’ll have in your life, my little dear. Every day I look down at your little face looking back up at mine and I wonder to myself, who are you? Where will you go in this life? What will you see? Who will you love? What will break your heart? What will fill it back up again?

I do hope that one day it strikes you as simply as it struck me that day — how terribly beautiful life is.




  1. Weeping my eyes out. Yes, yes, yes. I know exactly what you mean. Inextricably linked. Thank you for this gorgeous reminder. xo

    Comment by Lindsey on August 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

  2. Terribly beautiful piece. In my darkest hours, I will think of you. So well said.

    Comment by Marina on August 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

  3. YES. I have an 11 week old and could have written these exact words (if I had any time/patience/inspiration to do so). This is the second time around for me, but I am still amazed at how quickly life can go from beautiful to dark and back to beautiful again with a newborn. So raw, so on the surface, in every way. Your daughter is beautiful!

    Comment by Alisa on August 16, 2012 at 12:40 pm

  4. Be still my heart.

    Comment by Esther Bradley-DeTally on August 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

  5. Oh my, I just adore the way you put your thoughts into words. Thank you for this, Claire.

    Comment by Brenda on August 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm

  6. Wow…:)

    Comment by francesca on August 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

  7. Hi Claire, I just found you today on HP. Your instagram article was so beautiful and true. I just wanted you to know I so relate. And that I prayed for you today, for grace and strength (and financial breakthrough) and for big big love to surround you. Thank you for being so vulnerable and making me feel safe in my own failings. -Missy

    Comment by Missy on August 17, 2012 at 10:59 am

  8. Wow. What a beautiful post for motherhood. Even as a son–who won’t ever know “motherhood” in this respect– was taken to thoughts of my own mom and in her moments with me-of love and heartbreak.

    “…but I suddenly came to the realization that there was an incredible beauty to be found in even the most painful experiences.”

    This is why you’re a writer…compelled to share these experiences. And we’re all better for it.

    So are you daughters.


    Comment by Ron Stempkowski on August 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm

  9. So tell me Claire, is death one of the darkest things in life that often reminds us how beautiful life is–? So maybe it is true that darkness and beauty does go hand to hand.

    Comment by angela on August 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

  10. [...] find.  The author of one of the most influential books I’ve read since losing you, recently wrote in her blog about “the knowledge that you can’t have one with out the other: beauty and darkness” [...]

    Pingback by Dear Mom | Emily Page Hatch on August 21, 2012 at 7:05 am

  11. Beautiful as I too raised my children without my beloved mother. I had to reach out about the comment “to make you stop crying”. My granddaughter Kimberlin died as a result of her father shaking her because he could not get her to stop crying. 1500-2000 babies a year in this country alone are shaken hard enough to cause brain damage or death. Sometimes our job is not to make them stop crying; once their needs are met sometimes we need to let them cry, especially if we are getting frustrated. It only took five seconds of frustration to take my precious Kimber away from us…………..

    Comment by janet goree on August 21, 2012 at 9:05 am

  12. [...] would one day find.  The author of the best book I’ve read since losing you, recently wrote in her blog about “the knowledge that you can’t have one with out the other: beauty and darkness” (Claire [...]

    Pingback by Dear Mom | EEPHH on March 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm

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