when i was pregnant with you, death hung in the corners. always in my peripherals at our home on the river. the wild pig incident, the puppies dying one by one, the hit and run in the city that left the body crumpled at the edge of the street. the crush in my chest that there was simply too much death.
i worried that the sadness was seeping into you; safe in my womb, but not safe from my emotions. what i ate fed you. and what i felt fed you too.
a mother feels responsible for the child she creates.
i don’t know why my pockets fill with worries. or why yours do too. i’m learning not to question it anymore. to just go with it. pockets get full, they get heavy. they burst at the seams, spilling their contents, leaving you empty until you repair the threads that bind you. and then you continue to fill your pockets again because you are human.
rinse and repeat.
let me explain. there is no brushing away death. there is no pretending. it hung in the corners for nine months. it hovered over my cold body after i birthed you. it hid in the closets of my failing marriage. and now it slips through the cracks in nana’s house.
when you spend so much time with loss and death, you begin to view life differently. when you see so much death, you also see so much life.
let me explain. she used to read books to you. nearly every book on your shelf has a note written in her hand, to you, her only grandchild.
let me explain. this is pick’s disease. frontal lobe dementia. this is not alzheimer’s. this is a 67 year old woman riding the slippery ice into darkness and pulling everyone of us with her. not even all of us together, in all of our strength, can keep her from slipping away. this is rare. this is 3% of all dementias. there are no support groups for this rapid decline. there are no guidebooks for this social inappropriateness. for this apathy, anxiety, anger. this is hereditary. this is my fear as i look at my brothers, myself, and you, my son. i am willing a healthy future into our existence. with all my might. i am conjuring up the power to create a different future for you. when you are my age now; when you are 35 and i am 65, this history will not be repeated. i will not allow it.
i am setting intentions.
this is what keeps me in the now. not just hit or miss conversations with her. not just the acceptance of death. the truth is this heavy pocket full of loss reminds me to catch the beauty too. it weighs on the balance equally as heavy, full of goodness. today i grieved her in one moment and taught you to catch tadpoles in the next. you jumped and squirmed in that excited way each time i caught one in my bare hands. the loss and the love create who i am. how i mother. love and loss also create everything around us. today you are a barefoot five year old ankle deep in a creek with his one and only momma.
this moment. and that moment. and the next and the next.
moments are all there ever are. seconds that last forever, speeding up until they fill an entire life, an entire childhood, binding us together in memory forever.
i’m finding there’s not really a way to explain it.
but thanks anyway for letting me try.