In April 2012 I traveled to Namibia with a pregnancy test and a package of maxi pads in my suitcase. I wasn't sure which I would be needing, but I was prepared either way. On Easter, I peed on the stick in a camping area toilet at Etosha National Park. The test was positive. You were on your way, cells dividing as I rode around the park watching wildlife. I texted a cryptic message home to your dad. I wrote a postcard to him with a cheetah cub on the front. A new cub was coming.
Here I am, back on the continent where I was traveling when I first learned you were coming. Over two years later, and this time in northern Africa. There have been many tears on this trip. As I got reacquainted with my solo-traveling self, I remembered who I was, who I used to be. I've also had to admit that I've changed since your death, your birth, and these two years of grief. I won't run through all the differences, but overall, I am less happy out here in the world alone these days. I want my tribe surrounding me. I crave the blessed, exhausting chaos of my life at home over the time to think and reflect, the opportunity to observe the world. I'm counting the days until I get home and I will think carefully about leaving my nest voluntarily again anytime soon. I wonder if this would be true anyway. I wonder how much of this is growing fully into my motherhood, and how much is motherhood after loss. I don't suppose I'll ever know.