Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mommies are not allowed to die

Mommies should not die.
They should not be allowed to die. Their role is to create and nurture life, and dammit they should be left to do that. They can also run the country or fly off into outer space or drive a big rig or sail the seven seas - but they have to come back home, wherever home may be. Which is to say, where their children are.

Children should not be left motherless.

This past week, I got the news that pathology results from biopsies taken during my surgery last week had come back clear.

I did not have cancer.

Which is good, because I don't have time for that bullshit. I am going to recover, and heal, and continue to be here for my children, for as long as they will have me.

Since becoming a mother, mortality has taken on a whole new meaning. There is a bubble that you live in when you have a newborn - this sort of parallel reality where everything revolves around a completely dependent brand new human being. You sleep at odd hours and you spend a lot of time cleaning up some pretty disgusting stuff, and sometimes someone pees IN YOUR MOUTH and all you can do is laugh, because it is just how things are. They need you to live. You live for them. Nothing is the same as it ever was. And the first time I realized as a mother that parents can die - that I could die - the bubble just......burst. Sometimes parents die. Sometimes, children die. Sometimes parents and children die. I will hear that a young mother or a young father passed away, and I will be sad, and I will feel grateful, and I will be reminded to appreciate my life, and I will be able to move on. For the most part, I am able to process it in a healthy way, and not go off the rails.

And then sometimes, that does not happen at all. Sometimes, something happens that is so terribly awful that I do not even know where to begin to deal with it. And I go to a very sad, very scared, very dark place. A place I am carefully avoiding right now, because I know that she would never, ever want anyone to remember her like that. And because it does no one any good. And because it is not about me.

This weekend, someone's mother died. Three someones, actually. Three children woke up on this crystal clear Saturday morning and were told that their beautiful, vibrant young mother who loved them more than the earth and sky was never going to hold them in her lap again. They would never smell her hair or hear her voice or feel her arms around them.


I saw the breaking news report posted on my twitter feed, and again on my facebook, coming from various news outlets. It was strange - to have it showing up over and over again like that for a local accident. Very unusual. One, two, three times it popped up - finally I clicked on the link the third time, mostly because the headline mentioned a road that was a block away from my house.

It was early. We had just left the farmer's market, and we were driving up to Lucy's ballet class. While Sam steered the car up the mountain road, I had turned on my phone and scrolled through my newsfeed. When I clicked over to the story I saw the name and I froze. I thought "No, it must be a different woman with the same first name, I must be remembering her last name wrong. Because it can't be her. It cannot be her."

We had just reconnected last week at a friend's brunch, and talked about our kids and school and her plans for becoming a teacher. This was not just a name and some clinical details about a one-car accident on a country road. I did not know her well, but I did know her - more as a mother than anything else, for she was a mother through and through. She loved being a mother. She embraced it. She was the epitome of the word. Gentle and strong, loving and firm. She had a kind face and a nurturing, comforting spirit.

If you met her, you would wish she had been your mother. She was so young, and so sweet, and so beautiful. My clearest memory is of her sitting on the floor at a playgroup, with all of her children climbing over her like puppies as she sat in the midst of them, beaming.

And on Friday night, she was in a terrible accident on a winding road.
And now she is gone.

The children are surrounded by love and light. They have a father, and aunts and uncles and grandparents who all adore them. But they do not have their mother.

Something has gone terribly wrong somehow, because mommies are not allowed to die.

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