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“In 1964 every East end family had its connection to the wharf. People belonged to the river and the river belonged to them. And the Thames flowed on—like time itself….. bringing growth, and change, and challenge.”
This episode dealt with a docker’s family members with anthrax and pneumoconiosis, a concealed teenage pregnancy, Mother Mildred’s return to Nonnatus House, Phyllis injures her back and Lucille takes a step towards a new friendship.
This episode strikes me in several ways—with life choices and family. We have a young teen who endured the pain of having her first baby taken away from her without her consent and she now chooses to get pregnant again but this time conceals her pregnancy and decides to keep this baby (even without family support). She is faced with big challenges and unknowns as she navigates this next phase of her life. Her family disowns her and she begins to find her footing and path but not alone. She has guidance and assistance from Lucille.
Then we have Dr. Patrick Turner and Shelagh and their arms are out wide with acceptance of May as they foster her. There is fear and uncertainty as they know she will be going to her permanent family soon. Their fear intensifies when they have a child care worker that truly does not understand the impact of connections, love, loss and the true meaning of family. At age four she says that May will have “hazy memories”; however, Shelagh is wiser and realizes that May has already lost so much (her mother, country and language). She knows that May will have to navigate her next phase of life and wants her to have something solid to reflect on with the knowledge that she was loved and a part of their family. May was accepted and she wants her to know and trust these memories as they will help her as she moves forward.
As a Modern Day midwife I have come to see so many different forms of family. But the common denominator of strength and health have been the people that shared love, gave acceptance, built trust, supported us (in varied ways), and were in a sense -- a safety net. The common thread that helps so many through their darkest hours is that we don’t have to walk it alone—we can surround ourselves with family (varied shapes and forms). We can all be that safe landing spot for others—but we have to open our eyes to who needs us and how we can be there for them.
“So where in the end do we belong? In the eyes of another where we see ourselves reflected? Or arm in arm with those whose faces echo ours —whose blood we share? Or is it in the heart of the family we create? Where we are safest and best known and never lonely. Perhaps we belong where love can bloom because we give it room to put down roots and space in which to thrive. Seeds fly in upon the wind and settle where they will. We all belong somewhere. If we are not nurtured as we should be -- we must find a choice to make a place to go, a harbor where the storm is held at bay. Sometimes simply belonging to each other is enough and what matters is not a struggle but where we find our peace.”