Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Old Friend Fear

Fear it a very basic emotion. It is, supposedly, one of only 3 emotions animals ever feel (joy and sorrow being the others).

It is a very important emotion. It helps keep us safe and aware.

But sometimes it is only a menace. I have found this to be true my entire life. Fear of rejection causing me not to talk to a cute boy or a new kid that might make a good friend. Fear of failure causing me not to try my hardest.

Never has fear been more of a menace than the fear I feel as a mother. It is all-consuming and it does no good. I’m sure it has a great biological purpose but in my life it feels useless.

I am terrified of Maggie dying. When I was pregnant, I was constantly terrified of miscarrying. Once she was born, I was horrified by the thought of SIDS or some scary baby disease or some regular disease that her fragile little body wouldn’t be able to fight. And now it’s nameless. It’s nothing I can put my finger on but it’s there.

I read two blogs by women who have lost children. And their children died around this time of year because they are both writing about it. I read it and I cannot imagine. I do not think I could continue to live if Maggie died. When I pray for her health, I ask that if she is taken to take me too.

I read an interview of Elizabeth Edwards. She has two “sets” of children. She has an adult daughter and two little kids, maybe 9 and 10. She had a son who was a year older than her now-adult daughter who died when he was 16. The first thing I noticed was that her younger children would have been conceived immediately after her son died.

I hear of this a lot and before I had children I might have thought that was selfish. Bearing your own replacement child. But now I understand it for what it is: a survival mechanism. How much a mother would need a newborn, an all-consuming newborn to concentrate on. I can see how without that she might swim deeper and deeper into herself until she is no more.

Elizabeth Edwards is also dying. She has terminal cancer. She will be leaving behind her 3 children, 2 of whom are still quite young. But she is not scared of death. How could she be? She believes with all of her heart that when she dies, she will be reunited with her son. I hope she is.

I know this is a heavy topic but it’s overwhelming my brain recently. Every time Maggie is quietly sleeping I worry that maybe. . . something’s. . . happened. I hate it so much. But I get the feeling it doesn’t really go away. Maybe it will be better some times that others but it will always be there.
At night. In the dark. My old friend Fear will remind me of all the tragedies that could befall my daughter. And I’ll fight in vain to shut him up. But, truly, why fight?

He always wins.

1 comment:

becca said...

I also have an all consuming fear of death. But it's of me dying, not one of my kids (selfish me). I worry constantly and it's terrible. I just can't imagine and don't want to imagine my kids growing up without me there to be a part of it. Constant fear of anything is awful. But you're right, there's nothing we can do about death... We can only do what we can to keep our kids healthy and safe and to enjoy every second with them, and chances are everything will be fine.