I lost a baby before it ever had the chance to live outside of me. And although it was so tiny, it was a large part of me. Later on, when I found out I was pregnant again, the fear was deep and it was instantaneous. Everything, from that moment on, pulled on a fear string. Was everything ok in there? Was it still growing? Did it stop? Is it going to happen again? Can I start to imagine the person it will become? Can I get excited? Is it moving too much? Is it moving so much because something is wrong? Is it not moving enough? Is something wrong because it isn’t moving? Can I let myself get excited?
The fear never let up. And as silly as I knew I was being, and as much as I appeared calm and okay on the outside, that fear was always lurking, lingering behind everything, just waiting for a chance to slip out. Each month I grew a little more confident and excited, but then tried to suppress that excitement in case something happened again. But at the same time I knew I should be enjoying this, and believing everything will be okay, but always in the back row sat the fear.
Once that child was born, the relief that everything really was okay never overcame the new fears that crept in. Are they breathing? Why are they still crying? What is wrong? And it just evolves into more new fears as the child evolves and grows. You tell yourself you aren’t going to live in fear or have this child live in fear. So you hide how afraid you really are as you watch them grow through the experiences life gives them. You are happy and excited for them, but in there, lingering is always that sense of fear.
For most of my life, I never feared death or even thought of it really. I knew it was out there, but it was always just far enough away that it never consumed my mind. To me, it just affected the old, the sick, and people I didn’t know. There were some occasional tragic accidents, but it wasn’t time to worry about that. Now that I find myself in my forties, now that I am a mother, now that I have lost people too close to me, the fear of death is real; and it does terrify me.
I have seen it reach out its ghastly fingers and pluck people, good people, away. And for no good reason. It grows closer and it just makes me hold my children tighter. My mind constantly wonders how am I going to protect them, but still let them live? In everything they do I hold my breath and push my fears back until I know they are ok. But so much in life is out of our hands, our control. Since becoming a mother I feel things so much deeper than I ever had before. And I realize I never understood before. But being a mother has taken me to a whole new realm of understanding others, and other mothers, and actions, and fear.
I don’t think it will ever go away. As I lay next to my little boy in his bed. I run my hand through his soft hair and stare at his beautiful and innocent face. I listen to his breathing and feel his warm breath on my face. I feel his hand resting on my arm, afraid I was going to leave him. I can’t imagine him not here. I can’t imagine either of them not here. Or me not with them. It terrifies me and tears fall for a grief that is just imagined, yet real as can be.
I think of the day we just endured and of the mother who had to say goodbye to her child. It makes me weep. I feel that sadness for her from every part of me. And yet, I know that what I am feeling is not even a fraction of what she is feeling. I cry for her because I know that that pain will never leave her. I know that no words can comfort her. I just pray that she feels the strength to make it through the strange new world she is now a part of. And I pray that one day, she will be able to stare at that sweet innocent face again and run her fingers through her child’s hair again. I hope that she will one day feel their hand in hers again. And until that day, I hope that she can make it through, knowing she had loved them with her whole self, and they loved her the same, and the fear can finally disappear.
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