I remember the first time I saw my daughter.
It was a sunny day in the middle of May, the red tulips and purple crocuses were in full bloom and I lay in a low bed in one of my many temples in a secluded but beautiful vale near Eleusis, as far away as I could get from Zeus and his jealous wife Hera, my sister. Not that she didn’t have good reason, I reminded myself sternly. I had watched Hera for what had seemed like eons with her two sons, Ares and Hephaestus and Zeus, who was father to both boys as well as legions of children with women other than his wife. I had watched the children grow up happily and so longed for a child of my own to ease my loneliness and solitude and finally pleaded with Zeus to father a child with me. And here I was in labour for seventeen hours so far and expecting the baby to come at any time.
Rivulets of sweat trickled from my hairline down my pale face where my usually perfectly coiffed golden waves lay, now damp with perspiration from my labours and in complete disarray in an untidy cloud above my head.
“One more push, my lady”, encouraged Euthymia, the midwife holding my moist hand with two of her strong ones, aged but reassuring, as one of my nurses placed a cool imported white cotton cloth upon my brow.
I bore down once more, straining my muscles. The crown of the baby had already appeared and it was up to me to push the rest of it’s slippery wet body out into the world.
“A daughter, my lady!”, announced Euthymia in jubilant tones and after cleaning her and bundling her in a pink silken wrap, placed her carefully on my breast..
I looked down at my child in wonderment. Her skin was blushed with tones of shell pink and fresh cream. I counted her fingers and toes. Everything about her was tiny and perfect. Her eyelashes were inky black and thick and her eyes were a startling violet blue when she opened them to peer up at me with a gaze of complete love and trust.
The wet nurse came forward and motioned to take her away.
“No!”, I commanded.
“But, my lady, the child should drink now”, she protested weakly, making another feeble move to take away my daughter.
“How dare you?”, I exclaimed, sitting up straight and regal and I watched the wet nurse shrink back with fear and the other women in the room whimper, “Just because I am a goddess does not mean that I would allow a stranger to suckle my child! No, she shall be fed by myself alone and raised by myself., not some insipid mortal!”
The women drew back and finally Euthymia crept closer to my baby girl and I and spoke up.
“What will you name her, my lady?”, she spoke softly.
“I will name her Persephone”, I announced, cuddling the baby up to my breast as she cooed happily, “It means dazzling brightness”.
I gazed down at little Persephone with love, sure that she would be the light of my life, the bright candle to brighten my lonely days. I never guessed that she would belong to and take comfort in someone and be swallowed up by the shadowy depths of darkness, whole.